Looking at the issue of cargo securement in the trucking industry

Truck accidents can occur for all sorts of reasons, and commercial vehicle drivers and their employers have a duty to see to it that they are not only abiding by all state and federal safety regulations, but engaging in business practices which promote safety on the roadway. Truck safety regulations cover a variety of issues, such as hours of service, drug testing, and vehicle maintenance.

One important area of regulation that isn’t talked about a whole lot is cargo securement rules. When a load is improperly secured, it can have a variety of negative consequences, including fatality, cargo damage, vehicle damages, citations, and out-of-service orders. At the federal level, cargo securement applies to commercial vehicles operating on the highway with a gross vehicle rating over 10,000 pounds.

Cargo refers to all general freight, equipment carried for the operation of the vehicle, and intermodal containers and their contents. Certain general requirements apply to all cargo, but specific commodities, dangerous goods, and hazardous materials have additional or separate securement requirements.

Among the general requirements are that cargo must be properly distributed and adequately secured so that there is no leakage, spillage, blowing or falling off the vehicle, dislodging from the vehicle, or shifting upon or within the vehicle that would affect maneuverability. Federal rules also specify minimum forces that securement must be able to withstand. In addition to these requirements, cargo must be secured in such a way that the driver’s view is not obscured, there is no interference with the free movement of the driver’s arms or legs, the driver may freely and readily access emergency accessories, and the driver and all passengers are able to freely and readily exit the cab or driver’s compartment.

In addition to the above, oversized loads may only be carried under special permits. We’ll take a look at this issue in our next post.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement - Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Cargo Securement,” Accessed Dec. 11, 2015.

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