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One of the most important tasks for drivers is ensuring their load is safely secured for transport. Even if the driver isn’t the person that actually secured the load, the responsibility ultimately rests with them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific requirements for securing loads to which everyone must adhere.

Load Securement

According to the FMCSA, before a load leaves, the tailgate, doors, spare tires, any tarps, and cargo must be secured by chains or rachet straps to prevent cargo from moving or shifting during transport or spilling out on the road.

FMCSA rules also require drivers to inspect those chains or rachet straps during transport to ensure they’re still holding appropriately and adjust them accordingly if they’re loose. However, inspection isn’t required if it would be impractical. An example would be if the driver has specific orders to leave the load sealed. Specific types of tie-downs must be employed in very specific locations.

Cargo that’s improperly loaded or secured is unstable. It has the potential for causing an accident that can result in severe injury or death if a driver needs to stop suddenly. Unstable loads make it more difficult to control the truck at higher speeds and in high winds which can result in a rollover accident. Trucks with particularly heavy loads are at additional risk.

Drivers must consider the weight, height, shape, and wind resistance of their load when securing it, along with how stopping and accelerating will affect it. Drivers should inspect the tie-downs and the tie-down points. Make sure the weight is distributed as equally as possible on the trailer.

If someone helps a driver secure the load, they should double-check the other person’s work. Some loads may require some type of padding between the cargo and the tie-downs to protect it from damage. Don’t forget a general walk-around of the truck and trailer before leaving.

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