Unsecured loads within dry van trucks can cause damage to the cargo, trailer, and are a potential hazard to drivers, dockworkers, and the public. Therefore, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set forth rules governing the way cargo is secured. Although this article specifically speaks about dry van trucks, the rules apply to all cargo-carrying commercial vehicles. The only exceptions are those that transport liquids, gases, grain and other bulk commodities that have no fixed shape or structure.
Types of Securement Required
The cargo must be secured within the vehicle by structures of appropriate strength, dunnage bags, shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these devices. Cargo that has a tendency to roll requires chocks, wedges, a cradle or other means to keep rolling from happening. Regardless of the type of device, they must be incapable of unfastening or loosening while the vehicle is in motion.
Number of Devices Required
The FMCSA states that articles that are 5 feet or less in length, and that weigh 1,100 lbs or less require one tiedown. Two are required for items that are 5 feet or less in length and more than 1,100 lbs in weight. In addition, cargo that is between 5 and 10 feet, regardless of how much they weigh require two tiedowns. Items that are more than 10 feet long require an additional tiedown for each additional 10 feet, or fraction of that measurement.
Load Limit of Tiedowns
The total working load limit of any securement system has to be at least one-half the weight of the item or group of items it is holding. The working load limit is calculated by taking the sum of half of the working load limit of each tiedown from an anchor point on the vehicle to an attachment point on an article of cargo. The load limit for each tiedown from an anchor point, through, over or around the cargo and then attaches to another anchor point on the vehicle is then added to it to determine the aggregate load limit.
The intent of the FMCSA requirement rules is to keep cargo secure during the phases of deceleration and acceleration that loads encounter. If loads shift during any of these phases, it could damage the cargo, truck, or create a dangerous situation for a driver or dockworker during unloading. What’s more, it helps to assure that loads remain balanced during transport, keeping the public safe.