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3 Things Truck Drivers Should Know for Secured Loads

One of the most important things a truck driver is responsible for is securing loads. This not only ensures the safety of the driver and the cargo, but also makes sure other cars on the road are safe too. In fact, according to Simmons Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers, shifting loads are cited as a contributing factor in almost 1/3 of all commercial motor vehicle accidents. Here are three things truck drivers should know for secured loads.

1. The Dangers of Improperly Secured Loads

A secured load is when cargo cannot shift or fall. This includes preventing cargo movement in any direction and protecting against weather that can cause cargo to become airborne.

Improper load securement creates risk for both the truck driver and other cars on the road. When a load is insecure, it may result in objects from the cargo flying off and hitting the truck driver’s windshield or other cars. In addition, these objects then become hazards on the road for other vehicles. Depending on the debris, the driver may not have ample time to react, causing the driver to swerve or damage the vehicle.

oversized loadIn addition, when items on a load are secured but extend past the vehicle itself, this also causes a risk to other drivers. In this case, a driver can mark their truck as an oversized load, alerting other drivers of the size and shape of the cargo. When a truck driver does not mark the load as oversized, it doesn’t give other drivers the proper visibility and potentially creates risk of a collision.

2. Who is Responsible for Secured Loads

The responsibility for securing a load properly lies with both the truck driver and the trucking company. Trucking companies often train their drivers to be familiar with rules regarding securing loads. The type of truck used to transport the cargo should be determined by legal limits on weights and sizes, and in most situations, a combination of blocks, chains, and tie-downs should be used to secure the cargo.

However, even with proper training and preparation, sometimes a load can still become insure on the road. This is then the driver’s responsibility to pull over and take the proper steps to secure the load. We spoke with Rachel, a flatbed and lowbed driver from Northern California, and she shared her experience with this.

“I was hauling a D11 blade in my lowbed, and one of my blocks came loose when I had about 500 miles to go. I had to secure it because it was on my passenger side. I can’t see it as I’m going down the road, and I didn’t want to be worried about it. I created a specific knot and used a bungee to attach the knot to my chain to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere,” shared Rachel.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR), a driver is not required to personally load, block, brace, and tie down the cargo. However, the driver is required to be familiar with the methods for securing the cargo. They are required to inspect the load and make adjustments during transit.

3. FMCSA Rules & Regulations for Secured Loads

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published securement rules based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. The rules reflect the results of a research program that evaluate U.S. and Canadian cargo securement regulations.

Minimum Number of Tiedowns

According to the FMCSA, the number of tiedowns needed depends on the length and weight of the articles on the truck.

The FMCSA states, “There must be 1 tiedown for articles 5 feet or less in length and 1,100 pounds or less in weight. There must be 2 tiedowns for articles 5 feet or less in length and more than 1,100 pounds in weight. There must be 2 tiedowns for articles greater than 5 feet but less than 10 feet, regardless of weight.”

The intent of these rules is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting.

Commodity-Specific Securement Requirements

autohaulerIn addition, the FMCSA created requirements for the securement of the following commodities:

  • Logs and dressed lumber
  • Metal coils, paper rolls, and concrete pipes
  • Intermodal containers
  • Automobiles, light trucks, vans, and flattened or crushed vehicles
  • Heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery
  • Roll-on/roll-off containers
  • Large boulders

The FMCSA outlines specific instructions for securement for each commodity.

Overall, understanding the rules of secured loads not only helps truck drivers be more prepared, but also protects those around them.

truck driver at loading dock

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3 Tips to Know as a Flatbed Driver

If you’re a truck driver looking for a challenge, some might say flatbed drivers have the most challenging jobs over the road. Others might even say it is the most dangerous trucking gig out there. But if you’re up for the adventure, flatbed trucking can be a great job. So, when thinking about becoming a flatbed truck driver, here are a few things to know before deciding.

1. Flatbed Driving: The Basics

Let’s start with the basics: to drive a flatbed truck, you need to have a CDL license. In most cases, that requires a Class A or B license. Once you have the license, companies hiring flatbed drivers typically prefer flatbed experience to get started, so finding a company that provides training would be helpful.

Flatbed drivers are in high demand and because of this, pay is typically more competitive than other driving jobs. The high demand for flatbed drivers is likely directly linked to the skills required to be a successful flatbed driver. Unlike dry van or reefer jobs, flatbed jobs often require more physical work to safely secure the loads with tarps.

Marian Kulostak Flatbed Driver

Marian Kulostak, Flatbed Driver

We talked to Marian Kulostak, a flatbed driver, and he shared his advice:

“Take your time, do it right the first time. Speed will come with experience. Ask questions, observe others, and then ask more questions!” shared Marian.

Learning how to become a successful flatbed driver takes time as well as experience on the job. Finding other drivers who are willing to help you learn and answer your questions is key to succeeding quicker.

2. Securing Your Cargo is Key

oversized flatbed load

Oversized Loads

While all flatbed drivers typically need to learn how to secure their load, hauling oversized freight requires even more skill. These flatbed drivers carry unusually shaped freight that does not fit inside the confines of a standard sized trailer. As such, these loads need plenty of support to keep them secure. Check out the handbook from the FMCSA to cover all of the topics of cargo securement.

Conestoga Trailers

Some flatbed drivers will have a conestoga trailer instead of a typical flatbed trailer. These trucks are unique and often make loading, unloading, and securing much more convenient for the driver as well as provide shelter for your freight without the need of manual tarping.

Weather Conditions

3 Tips to Know as a Flatbed DriverNot only do the loads need to be secured, but flatbed drivers also need to make sure freight is protected from weather conditions. We talked to Brittney Mills, an experienced flatbed driver, and she shared her advice:

“Always check your securement. If you think you have enough straps or chains, add one or two more. You can never be too safe. Make sure your tarps are tight, loose tarps can cause it to rip or your load to get wet,” shared Brittney.

Securing freight during inclement weather not only protects the load, but it also protects other drivers on the road. Without this extra precaution, the tarps could fly up while driving, causing a major distraction and hazard to other drivers.

3. Additional Safety Tips

When it comes to loading, unloading, and securing, following specific safety tips is essential. It is highly recommended that drivers avoid attending to freight while on the side of the roadway. Taking time to secure loads while at a truck stop or in a parking lot will provide flatbed drivers with a much safer environment.

flatbed truck driverIn addition, wearing the right clothes as a flatbed driver is also key. Investing in shoes with a good, no-slip grip will be helpful, especially during rain or snow. Having something that covers your clothes can also be helpful, especially when loading and unloading freight that potentially has mud or other elements covering it.

Overall, flatbed drivers are one-of-a-kind and demand a very specific set of skills. Mastering these will not only allow drivers to flourish in the area, but also start to stand out from the crowd of other drivers.

EJ Stutzman is Hiring Flatbed Drivers

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