As a professional truck driver, you face a number of different tasks on any given day. One such task, possibly one of the most important, is that of the secure transportation of your cargo. You understand the importance of proper cargo handling and weight distribution principles.
Always remember that either trucking companies or truck diver responsibility for the cargo starts as soon as the cargo is loaded into your vehicle and continues all the way through the moment it is removed from your vehicle. Make sure you are constantly aware of state and local requirements concerning cargo handling, especially if you are handling sensitive or hazardous cargo.
There are a number of regulatory requirements that govern your cargo. As it is being loaded into your vehicle, you need to make sure it is properly secured. Not only can shifting cargo damage it, but it could also post a safety risk to both you and those around you on the road.
Section 391.13 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) demands that you properly locate, distribute and secure your cargo. If you aren’t familiar with the procedures required to ensure your cargo is properly secured, you may want to take a second look at this rule.
Move on to Section 392.9 where the FMCSR clearly outline that a vehicle may not be driven without first properly distributing and securing the cargo.
Not only must your cargo be secured, but you have to make sure it doesn’t block your view, interfere with the movement of your vehicle, prevent you from exiting the cab or prevent you from reaching something in the event of an emergency.
More on Regulations
A best practice is to also inspect your load-securing devices within the first 50 miles of a road trip. After that initial inspection, you’ll want to reexamine your cargo security after another 3 hours, or 150 miles, whichever comes first. If go through a change of duty, you’ll want to do a thorough examination then, as well.
One notable exception to this rule is if your vehicle is sealed and you’ve been told not to open or inspect it. Also, if your vehicle is loaded in a way that you can’t inspect it, you may be exempt. For load securement specifics, see Part 393, Subpart I of the FMCSR.
Whether you are working with a truck, semi-trailer, full trailer or pole trailer, there are specific things you must do to ensure the safety of your cargo. Always remember that regulations require that your cargo is loaded and equipped in such a way that it won’t spill, leak, blow or fall from your vehicle.
Also consider that the type of cargo you are delivering may come with its own set of requirements. These types of cargo include, but are not limited to:
- Lumber products
- Building products
- Metal coils
- Paper rolls
- Concrete pipe
- Intermodal containers
- Flattened vehicles
- Roll-on or roll-off or hook lift containers
- Large boulders
For more information on the requirements governing these cargo types, see Sections 393.11 – 393.136 of the FMCSR.
Finally, there are specific instructions in Section 393.110 outlining how securement devices are to be used. This includes aggregate load limitations of tie downs and other securement methods.
Regulations also govern everything from blocking and bracing to dunnage, load locking bars and tarps. Each of these cargo-related items must be used with specific procedures in mind.
In the end, always remember that your cargo must be contained, immobilized, secured and safe. Proper cargo handling is about more than a happy customer, it’s about truck driver safety. Don’t let your cargo drive you. You drive your cargo.