The Importance of Securing Your Load
If you are driving a vehicle that is carrying a load or towing a trailer that is carrying a load, you have to make sure the load is properly restrained. By neglecting to do this, you might cause an
accident, injury or death as well as be legally liable if:
- Objects fall from your vehicle onto other vehicles or pedestrians
- Other drivers swerve to dodge items that are falling or have fallen from your vehicle onto the road
- An unsecured load crashes into your vehicle cabin during emergency braking
- A load shifts and contributes to your vehicle becoming unstable or unsafe
Unsecured loads can be deadly, yet we still regularly see items from trash to large pieces of wood or metal flying out of the back of vehicles on roadways.
In 2018, the Washington State Patrol contacted 6,268 vehicles for failing to secure their load and at least 170 collisions were caused by unsecured loads. Of those, 16 involved injuries.
Requirements for Securing Cargo
So, what is necessary to ensure that the load you’re hauling is secure?
- The following is a summary of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s general requirements. The rules can be viewed in full at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/393.106.
- Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage or dunnage bags, shoring bars, tie-downs or a combination of these.
- Articles of cargo that are likely to roll must be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle or other equivalent means to prevent rolling. The means of preventing rolling must not be capable of becoming unintentionally unfastened or loose while the vehicle is in transit.
- Articles or cargo placed beside each other and secured by transverse tie-downs must either be placed in direct contact with each other or be prevented from shifting toward each other while in transit.
- The aggregate working load limit of tie-downs used to secure an article or group of articles against movement must be at least one-half times the weight of the article or group of articles.
- The aggregate working load limit is the sum of:
- One-half the working load limit of each tie-down that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle to an anchor point on an article of cargo.
- One-half the working load limit of each tie-down that is attached to an anchor point on the vehicle, passes through, over or around the article of cargo, and is then attached to an anchor point on the same side of the vehicle.
- The working load limit for each tie-down that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle, through, over or around the article of cargo, and then attaches to another anchor point on the other side of the vehicle.
Ensuring that cargo and loads are properly secured is not technically difficult. It takes a little time, but it is time very well spent. Don’t become a statistic or part of the evening news because of a shortcut. Be sure to always secure all cargo no matter its size or the type of vehicle being used to haul it.