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Does Your Haul Require a Tarp?

Some states have strict tarping laws which require a tarp, while others don’t, but it’s important for heavy haulers to know that the federal government does. Drivers must be cognizant and compliant with tarping laws established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with those established by the state(s) through which they’ll be traveling.

Loose Materials

It’s always assumed that dump trucks and certain types of trailers are hauling loose materials such as dirt, sand, gravel, tar-and-chip, trash, recyclables, and scrap materials. In Florida, it typically doesn’t apply to transporting agricultural products. There are 11 states that have no tarp laws for dump trucks, but there are also exceptions.

Tarps are used to keep loose materials in the trailer or dump truck and prevent them from spilling, leaking or blowing out of the vehicle. Loose debris from trucks can result in an accident if it hits a passenger vehicle. It’s one of the reasons why heavy haulers wash dirt and debris from heavy equipment before transporting it.

Heavy Equipment

When hauling heavy equipment, a tarp may or may not be required as long as the load is secured with chains and straps. A tarp typically isn’t required for hauling heavy equipment and logs, along with girders, trusses and beams that require specialized securement methods. There are exceptions, depending on the weight of the load, and if it’s being transported on a pallet.

UV Sensitive

There are instances where a tarp may not be legally required, but the cargo may be sensitive to degradation due to UV rays. It’s critical that individuals understand the specific requirements for the cargo they’re transporting.

Keep Advised

The laws governing the trucking industry, and even private individuals hauling items in a home trailer, are subject to change with short notice. It’s essential to keep advised of laws governing every aspect of hauling items on or in a trailer, even if they’re not professionals.

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Why Heavy Haul Trucks Need Regular Inspections

Inspections help ensure safety for heavy haul truckers and they take great pains to ensure that tractors and trailers are maintained in optimal condition. Heavy haul trucks aren’t like other vehicles. The tractors and trailers used by heavy haulers are subject to stress forces that ordinary vehicles never encounter. If something goes wrong with a heavy hauler, the resultant accident will typically be far more serious than two ordinary passenger vehicles.

Every commercial carrier is required to inspect the tractor and trailer before and after every haul. Each trucking company has its own internal preventative maintenance and safety inspection schedule that can range from every 4 to 12 weeks. Much will depend on the mileage, type of work that’s being performed, and the terrain over which the vehicle travels.

Inspections

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires yearly inspections encompassing a variety of systems from brakes, steering and lighting to tires, windshield wipers and the engine. Emergency systems, the battery, exhaust and suspension are inspected and the operator’s CDL and other driver requirements are examined. There are six levels of DOT inspections:

  • North American Standard Inspection
  • Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection
  • Driver Only Inspection
  • Special Inspection
  • Vehicle Only Inspection
  • Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

Reputable heavy haul companies adhere to a regular regimen of preventative maintenance for tractors and trailers. Many employ a multi-point checklist that can include over 100 items. In addition to ensuring safety for others on the road, it’s a cost-savings measure for the tracking company. It extends the life of the equipment and reduces the potential for expensive emergency repairs. Regular mechanical inspections also ensure more uptime for trucks and trailers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that maintenance schedules for the vehicle be maintained for at least one year while the vehicle is being used and for 6 months after being decommissioned. Regular inspections save time, money, and prevents the company from running afoul of the DOT.

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6 Tips for a Successful Haul

Successful hauling requires some planning. Individuals that have engaged heavy haulers have probably learned that working with a reputable heavy hauler company is much easier than trying to perform the relocation themselves. It doesn’t matter whether a load is being transported down the street or cross country, there are some essentials when it comes to getting a load from point A to point B without difficulty.

Those needing the services of a heavy hauler should never wait until the last minute to schedule transportation. Due to their high level of expertise, heavy haulers are in great demand and the type of trailer required may not be available. Cost fluctuations also occur. New heavy haulers will need to keep the following tips in mind.

Successful Haul Tips

  1. Know the Details

Drivers need to know every detail of the haul to ensure safety and ascertain the type of trailer that will best suit the customer’s needs. Precise details about the item to be transported and its weight, width and height are critical. The haul may require an escort vehicle or for the cargo to be partially dismantled.

  1. Trailers

There are different types of trailers and not all types are appropriate for every job. Each type of trailer has its own function and choosing the right trailer for the job mitigates the potential for accidents and unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Picking Up or Dropping Off

Some heavy hauls require cranes, forklifts or rigging equipment that may only be available at certain times. Even the drop off or pickup site may only be operational at certain times.

  1. The Route

Sometimes the most convenient route from the pickup point to the drop off isn’t a straight line. Traffic may be lighter on some routes, while construction on another route will cause delays. Low overpasses and lightweight bridges are always to be considered. Depending on the cargo, an escort vehicle may be required for a successful haul.

  1. Permits

The number of required permits can be overwhelming, depending on the destination. Each state has its own rules and regulations and drivers will need to comply with all the prevailing laws of the states through which the cargo will pass through.

  1. Load Security

It’s the responsibility of the heavy hauler to ensure that loads are secured and in the proper manner. Doors and compartments on equipment should be securely fastened and tarps may be required.

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The Importance of Truck Weigh Stations

Even though many truckers complain about weigh stations and the time it deducts from their schedule, weigh stations perform an important function. Weigh stations ensure a truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) doesn’t exceed maximum standards. It’s a way to prevent damage to public roads.

Trucks that are too heavy for the construction of the road and associated bridges cause an exceptional amount of damage to highways and the repair costs can be enormous. It also results in significant delay times for traffic due to repairs and construction. Truckers that exceed weight limits are assessed a fine. The stations are often used for the purpose of collecting taxes on transported goods.

Drivers are required to stop at an open weigh station and there’s typically a state police officer located nearby. If the trucker makes the decision not to stop, they run the risk of being pulled over, ticketed and will be required to return to the weigh station. Trucking companies will be fined a pre-determined amount for each pound they’re overweight. The fines increase as the amount of the overage increases. Amounts vary by state.

Weigh Stations

Weigh stations were first established following passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956. They were originally implemented to collect fuel taxes owed by commercial trucks using the road. Times have changed and weigh stations are no longer used for that purpose.

Trucking companies now file a quarterly tax report as per an International Fuel Tax Agreement. However, weigh stations are still equipped with scales and utilized to enforce weight restrictions and check the drivers’ log books.

Some weigh stations have been updated to embrace modern technology. In those instances, a truck will drive over a scale built into the right lane of the highway about a mile prior to the weigh station. An automated system, or the operator of the weigh station, will decide whether the truck has to stop at the actual station. The decision is based on the vehicle’s weight and the history of the trucking company.

Truckers that can use this type of technology have a transponder installed in the truck. A green light will appear on the transponder if they can skip the station. A red light means that the trucker will have to actually pull into the weigh station.

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Transporting a Tiny Home?

Tiny homes are becoming more popular and tiny home parks are springing up across the nation. While there’s no official size designation for a tiny home, they’re generally 600 square feet in size. The homes can be established on a permanent foundation, but they’re most often referred to as a tiny house on wheels (THOW) since they’re built on trailers.

Dimensions

The maximum dimensions allowed to be transported without a special permit is 8 ft. 6 inches wide, 13.6 inches tall, and 40 ft. long. However, they usually don’t exceed 32 ft. in length. Instead of towing the houses, many companies that construct them are opting to have the dwellings transported via heavy haulers.

Tiny Home Transport

Transporting a tiny house isn’t a simple matter of hooking it up behind the family pickup or SUV and moving it to a new location. Everything depends on the tow vehicle. The average weight of a tiny home is approximately 10,000 lbs., but can be up to 15,000 lbs. It has a high profile and will catch the wind. Hauling a tiny house isn’t a task to be undertaken by the inexperienced.

Towing

Individuals will need a tow vehicle with enough power to pull the load with ease. All trucks and SUVs aren’t created equal. Vehicles with the same sized engine don’t necessarily have the same towing capacity. There are also other concerns. The tow vehicle needs to have a hitch that’s compatible with the one on the tiny house. Tow chains will be required, along with the wiring to accommodate the tiny house trailer’s lights.

A truck with a tow package may suffice and there are also companies that rent tow vehicles. It can be much more cost-effective, safer and less nerve-wracking, to outsource the transport to a heavy hauler company. They have the specialized trailers and experience with various types of loads to prepare them for transport and to move a tiny home safely.

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Long Distance Haul

There’s a lot of responsibility attached to being a long distance haul driver and a myriad of rules that drivers must obey. Safety is always a top priority and the rules are designed to ensure the safety of drivers, their cargo and other motorists. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated their regulations and the new rules went into effect on Sept. 29, 2020.

Hours-of-Service

Heavy haul drivers have a maximum limit of 11 hours per day that they can drive after 10 consecutive hours off duty. However, after coming on duty, they can’t drive past 14 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off duty time doesn’t extend the 14-hour period. Simply put, drivers can now drive for a maximum of 14 hours per day with 10 hours off during a 24-hour period. Long haul drivers can extend that 11 hour driving window into 14 when they encounter adverse driving conditions.

30-Minute Break

Drivers are required to take a 30-minute non-driving break if they’ve been on the road for a period of 8 cumulative hours.

Sleeper Berth

Trucks equipped with a sleeping berth enable drivers to split their 10-hours of non-driving time in different ways, but it must include one 2-hour off-duty period. Non-driving time must add up to 10 hours.

Work Week for Long Distance Haul

Drivers can work a 60-hour work week over the course of 7 days or a 70-hour work week over the course of 8 days. Under the new rules, the clock runs continuously each day and doesn’t stop when drivers take a break. Drivers can restart a work week after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Choosing Rest Stops

Not all rest stops on federal highways provide specific space for heavy haulers, bathroom/shower facilities, drinking water, or snack machines. It’s critical that drivers take breaks at locations that provide ample space for truck and trailer maneuverability, along with those that ensure the safety of the cargo.

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The Purpose of an Escort Vehicle

Depending on the size and type of load, and whether the tractor-trailer is traveling on a divided or non-divided highway, heavy haulers may have one or two escort vehicles. It’s the task of an escort vehicle to help drivers of oversize loads to avoid any hazard that may be on the road.

Escort vehicles are an essential safety precaution for transporting oversize loads through areas that could potentially present a danger to the public, such as high traffic areas, narrow bridges, or if the tractor-trailer needs to change lanes. They have authorization to stop traffic and direct the movement of the oversize load. In some instances, local police escorts may also be used in addition to the escort vehicle, depending on the load.

Every state has a variety of rules and regulations governing escort vehicles and when they’re required. Escort drivers must have a Florida State certification or FDOT authorization. An escort vehicle is also a highly visible signal to other motorists that an oversize load is on the road and they need to take appropriate precautions.

In Florida, escort vehicles are required to carry a two-way communications device enabling the escort driver and heavy hauler to communicate. They also carry a variety of other equipment, such as a fire extinguisher and reflective signage that meets certain specifications, reflective triangles, and other equipment as determined by state and federal regulations.

Some states that heavy haulers may pass through requires escort vehicles to stop and pay for an inspection. They have a highly specific and itemed list of equipment that escort drivers are required to carry.

Safety is the number one priority for escort drivers. They work closely and in conjunction with heavy haul drivers to ensure safety. They communicate with drivers to warn them if there are any hazards or obstacles that could present a danger, ranging from construction work and narrow bridges to accidents, traffic backups, and the need for lane changes for the safety of the load and other motorists.

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Preventing Cargo Theft

Many drivers think cargo theft will never happen to them, yet it does happen and the frequency is increasing. Cargo theft is a $15 to $35 billion industry and thieves are continually devising new ways to make off with cargo in quicker and more efficient ways. While theft can happen anytime, most occur on weekdays, with the highest number taking place on Monday and Friday.

Due to the nature of the crime, few arrests or convictions are ever made and most cargo theft takes place in-transit. According to the FBI, the top 10 states with the most cargo thefts in descending order are: CA, TX, FL, IL, NJ, GA, AL, NC, IN and MO. The most frequent targets in 2020 was food, beverages and pharmaceuticals. However, there are measures that companies can take to lessen the risk.

Screen Employees

A background check on potential hires should always be conducted on everyone from office workers and warehouse employees to drivers.

Employee Training

It’s essential for companies to train their employees in the ways that theft occurs and how to thwart it. Drivers must receive training on ways to reduce the risk, such as keeping trucks in sight, checking cargo before departing after a stop, and what to do if they’re victims of cargo theft. Instruct drivers on safety precautions such as avoiding hot spots, only stopping at secure locations, and not leaving cargo unattended.

Security Measures

There are numerous security measures that can be implemented at the company, from security guards and CCTVs to high-tech keycard entry systems. Alarm surveillance systems can be installed, along with high security rear door locks on trailers. Security also includes conducting audits to identify any holes in the supply chain that could give thieves and opening.

Transportation Partners

Heavy hauler companies work with a variety of partners and background checks should also be conducted on them. Ensure that any partner company maintains its own background checks and has the same security philosophy.

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5 Driving Tips for Passing Trucks and Trailers

A truck and trailer combo aren’t like other vehicles on the road. A great number of motorists drive as if a heavy hauler is like every other vehicle. They don’t use common sense or allow for the special needs that a truck and trailer require to remain safe. Here are 5 driving tips to follow when sharing the road with trailers.

Extra Space

Tractor-trailers require a great deal more space than an ordinary car to do everything from passing and turning to braking. It may sound excessive, but drivers should leave a minimum of 16 car lengths between their car and a tractor-trailer. That provides enough space for a motorist to stop and avoid a tractor-trailer if they need to stop quickly.

If debris of some sort falls off the truck, that extra distance enables drivers to avoid it and the potential for a catastrophic accident. Individuals should be aware that the brakes on a car are hydraulic. They respond quicker than the brakes on a tractor-trailer. The braking system on tractor-trailers are different and have a slight lag time before they engage which means a big rig needs far more space to stop.

Blind Spots

Every vehicle of every size has a blind spot. The blind spot on a tractor-trailer is obviously going to be larger. A good rule of thumb is that if a driver can’t see the mirrors on the tractor-trailer, the driver won’t be able to see the driver, either.

Safe Passing

Drivers need to keep in mind that it requires more time and space to pass a tractor-trailer than an ordinary vehicle. Trying to pass with too little room will force a driver into cutting back into the lane too quickly, a mistake that can end in a deadly accident.

Common Sense

The rules of the road apply equally to all drivers, but that doesn’t mean everyone obeys them. Keeping more distance, safe passing and other precautions are just common sense when a tractor-trailer is involved. In the event that another driver doesn’t use common sense around a big rig, drivers that do observe precautions are safer.

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Knowing When you Need Heavy Haul Trucking

Even individuals that are experienced shippers of heavy equipment and similar items may not fully understand when they need the services of heavy haul trucking. Simply put, heavy haul trucking moves large, heavy and bulky objects and materials. It can also come into play whenever machinery or other types of freight exceed regulated height, width, length or weight limits. If you don’t know what the limits are, you need heavy haul trucking.

Heavy haulers have the specialized trailers, experience and knowledge required to haul any type of freight across the nation or internationally. Heavy haulers transport a wide variety of items encompassing construction machinery, mining and military equipment, blades for wind turbines, and even parts for airplanes.

Heavy Haul Trucking

Heavy haul companies are cognizant of the specialized requirements needed based on the type of freight they’re hauling. That can include specific permits, banners and safety flags, flashing lights, and escort vehicles when applicable. It also requires careful mapping out of the route that will be taken to ensure the safety of the load and that drivers don’t encounter bridges and overpasses that won’t hold the weight or are too low to pass under.

Restrictions

In some instances, there may also be restrictions on the times of day that the heavy hauler can legally transport your load. There are additional restrictions if the heavy hauler is transporting a load during winter weather in the north. In some situations, a heavy haul load may also require a police escort.

The types of freight and cargo that heavy haulers transport are extremely expensive and you’ll want to know where your property is at every point in its journey. GPS tracking is a little-known service available with a heavy haul company. You’ll know the exact location of the cargo any time of the day or night. It will arrive safely and on time.

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