Big Rig Drivers Required to Follow Load Securement Requirements

Home » Big Rig Drivers Required to Follow Load Securement Requirements
January 14, 2016
Edward Smith

Big Rig Load Requirements

While big rigs mostly look pretty uniform, they can carry various items. Each truck has its own unique system for loading and unloading freight, storing it while en route to its final destination, organizing it, and any other special considerations necessary, such as refrigeration. When a business contracts with a truck driving company to have goods delivered, it wants these goods delivered in the same exact condition they were in when they were received by the truck driver initially. Therefore, the trucking industry follows various procedures for securing loads to protect the cargo.

Securing Loads Can Save Lives

However, there is another crucial reason for securing cargo. Improperly secured loads can be dangerous to other drivers on the road. Flatbed trucks with open-air tractors often rely on bungee cords, ropes, cables, and ties to secure loose items, while regular 18-wheelers have enclosed tractor-trailers. However, both types of trucks risk injuring other drivers during an accident or even causing the accident itself.

Improperly secured loads may occur when:

  • Loose cargo is not securely fastened to an open-air truck with adequate ties
  • An 18-wheeler’s doors are not properly shut and locked, allowing loose cargo to fly out of the trailer
  • The truck is overloaded
  • The freight on an open-air truck is not correctly positioned, causing clearance issues for other cars, tunnels, bridges, overpasses, and more.

Safety Regulations for Cargo Securement

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted rules known as the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations to address the safety hazard presented by poorly secured cargo. The rules apply to any truck used to carry cargo across state lines. Cargo is defined as freight, which can be essentially any item with a structure or fixed shape, such as wood or boxes of electronics. All commercial truck drivers must follow these rules when securing cargo.

To determine if cargo is secured correctly, the FMCSA sets forth performance standards. These performance standards determine how much deceleration and acceleration the freight can handle without significant movement. This also includes driving forward and in reverse and turning.

There are no set rules on exactly what types of securing devices a truck must use because every load is different. However, a violation has occurred if the system used to secure the load does not meet the performance standards. This includes maintaining the securement system, replacing damaged or faulty parts, and fortifying the system if it cannot pass performance standards. Generally, proper securement can involve:

  • Providing a strong and sturdy structure to immobilize the freight
  • Packing the freight with materials designed to protect and immobilize the load, such as Styrofoam
  • Placing inflatable bags known as dunnage bags in the tractor-trailer to prevent the cargo from sliding around the trailer
  • Installing and utilizing shoring bars
  • Tying down the cargo with tie-downs of the appropriate length and number
  • Using chocks or wedges to stop cargo from moving

Seek Assistance from the Edward A. Smith Law Offices

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney with the primary accident information site on

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury due to an improperly secured load, call me at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice.

You can learn more about my office on Yelp, Avvo, and Google. I am also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an organization comprised of attorneys who have won multiple million-dollar verdicts for their clients.

Browse our firm’s past verdicts and settlements.