Big Rig Load Requirements
While big rigs for the most part look fairly uniform, they are capable of carrying a variety of items. Each truck has its own unique system for how to load and unload freight, how to store it while en route to its final destination, how to organize 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 a variety of different 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 run the risk of 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 properly positioned, causing clearance issues for other cars, tunnels, bridges, overpasses, and more
Safety Regulations for Cargo Securement
To address the safety hazard presented by poorly secured cargo, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted rules known as the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. 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.
In order to determine if cargo is properly secured, the FMCSA sets forth performance standards. These performance standards are determined by looking at 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, if the system used to secure the load does not meet the performance standards, a violation has occurred. This includes maintaining the securement system, replacing parts when they become damaged or faulty, and fortifying the system if it is unable to pass the 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
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to an improperly secured load, call me now at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice.
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