Posts

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

Find a CDL Truck Driver Job

Drive My Way matches you with a CDL job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Create a Free Profile

clearinghouse will impact truck drivers
You have likely heard about the upcoming new change affecting the trucking industry. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been in the works for many years, and will finally go into effect in January 2020. The database is designed to address the detection of disqualified drivers, therefore, CDL drivers need to register for the Clearinghouse to be eligible for new employment with carriers. Here’s how Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers, and how they need to act in preparation for it.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a planned database of positive DOT drug and alcohol test results. It will not contain historical data—it only starts collecting data from January 6, 2020 onward. The database was meant to address a major loophole in the detection of disqualified drivers. Technically, if a CDL driver fails or refuses a drug and alcohol test, they are supposed to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Currently though, a driver can bypass this system. If they fail a test by a carrier, other carriers may not know about this and can still hire them. The average rate of drug test failure is only about 2%. Even though very few drivers fail drug tests, the Clearinghouse will contain violation data about all CDL drivers. The Clearinghouse affects all commercial truck drivers, owner operators, and motor carriers.

How does Clearinghouse work?

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) will manage the secure portal where all concerned parties will have access to data about drug and alcohol violations. Drivers can register on the Clearinghouse, although they’re not technically required to. If drivers register, they will have access to their own data for free.

Drivers are also required to provide consent for companies attempting to access their data.

The Clearinghouse will feature an electronic consent feature for this purpose. Motor carriers, state drivers licensing agencies, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals will also be involved with the system. What’s important to note is that CDL drivers can’t really bypass Clearinghouse even if they don’t register. Whether you register or not, violation data about you will be on there if it exists. If you’re not registered you just can’t see it, and you can’t consent to carriers using the data to hire you.

How Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers

Once CDL drivers are registered on the Clearinghouse, motor carriers can run two types of queries, or requests for data. The first is pre-employment full queries and is a request for a full record of violation data. As the name suggests, carriers are required to make this query before a driver can be hired by their company to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Once carriers make the query, drivers can give their consent to the data on the Clearinghouse portal.

Without drivers giving their consent to the data, carriers are not legally allowed to hire that driver.

Carriers can also make a limited query, which is more like an annual review of their current driver to ensure they are in compliance. Carriers are required to make a limited query once a year, although some may elect to make it more often. Drivers don’t have to give consent for the limited query through the Clearinghouse portal. Instead, drivers give their consent for the limited query to the carrier based on the carrier’s own discretion and paperwork.

What do truck drivers need to do next?

Truck drivers should register for the Clearinghouse by January 6, 2020, especially if they are searching for a new job. Registration isn’t technically required for all CDL drivers, but it is needed if they’re looking for a new job. Registration simply makes the violation data available to you and to carriers looking to hire you.

It’s safe to say that if a driver doesn’t register, they won’t be able to be hired for a new driving job.

There is no renewal required after a driver registers. If drivers are in the hiring process, they’ll have to log on to the Clearinghouse and provide their consent to carriers looking to access their data. While there is no requirement to provide your consent quickly, it’s in your best interest to do so quickly to be considered for employment. Finally, drivers will need to sign consent forms for the limited query, which should be provided by their motor carriers.

The requirements are slightly more complicated for owner-operators, since they serve as their own bosses.

Basically, owner operators are subject to the regulations for both drivers and employers.

They’ll have to designate a consortia or third party administrator who must also be registered. The requirements for owner operators vary slightly depending on whose authority they are operating under. If they’re operating under a carrier’s authority, the carrier takes on more of the responsibilities.

Drivers can register for the Clearinghouse by visiting the Clearinghouse website. There are also helpful FAQs and a helpful timeline on the website. It may be best to select email as a preferred method of contact. If you don’t, the FMCSA will send correspondence via snail mail, which can hamper the speed of your job search and hiring process. Being registered in the Clearinghouse will make job hunting easier for CDL drivers.

Interested in learning more?

Drive My Way partnered with DriverReach to produce an ondemand webinar that provides additional information about how the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers.

Watch the Webinar

The federal regulator for the trucking industry says he’s working to better hear owner-operator’s ELD concerns. However, some attendees at the Mid-America Trucking Show remain frustrated and seek ELD info.

Ray Martinez, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, spoke at the Mid-American Trucking Show a day after Overdrive published an exclusive interview with him.

In the interview, Martinez noted his commitment toward establishing a better listening strategy for owner-operator’s concerns.

In addition, he acknowledged important ELD issues. These included the search for available parking eating into drive time and the effect of autonomous trucks on future driver jobs. However, these issues have yet to be addressed but remain active concerns.

Also, Martinez claimed in the Overdrive interview that an open-door policy exists at the FMCSA. However, members of the audience at FMCSA’s presentation at the Mid-America Trucking Show did not agree. Some attendees walked out during a presentation on lesser known aspects of ELD compliance. These include the adverse-conditions extension, personal conveyance matters, and a 16-hour maximum duty day for every five 14-hour days for haulers returning to their home terminal.

find-cdl-truck-driver-jobs

Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today