Laws mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have specific rules and regulations for the trucking industry. Among these rules, cargo securement regulations are detailed for safe loading procedures.
All truck drivers are responsible for knowing what they are transporting, the weight limits, and the appropriate methods for securing the cargo. If they violate any of these rules, they could be held liable in a truck accident.
What Are the Federal Rules Regarding Cargo Securement?
The FMCSA requires that all cargo must be secured or immobilized to prevent it from shifting during transport. This can be done in a variety of ways, and may even require combining methods for the highest security.
Cargo can be secured with durable padding or protective packaging bags. Load bars and tie-downs may also be used, but everything must have sufficient strength to keep the cargo secure. Whatever is used for cargo securement must be capable of withstanding the force of deceleration and acceleration.
Conducting Periodic Inspections of the Cargo
Often, the truck driver is not the one loading the truck. However, they must still inspect the cargo. The vibrations and movements of traveling could cause tie-downs to loosen or make cargo shift during transit.
The rules of the FMCSA require truck drivers to stop and inspect the cargo and the items securing it within the first 50 miles of their journey. If anything is amiss, they must make proper adjustments. After that, the trucker is responsible for reexamining the cargo when they make a change in duty status, after driving the truck for three hours, and after traveling 150 miles. If the load contains hazardous materials, it should be inspected every 50 miles.
Another rule also requires that all truck drivers stop as soon as they safely can to inspect the load after making a sharp turn or braking hard. This is also required if any cargo is added or removed along their route.
Types of Truck Accidents Caused by Cargo Securement Issues
Even the most experienced truck driver can end up in a serious truck accident due to improper cargo loading and securement. Trucks are large and heavy, and when the cargo isn’t properly secured, it can shift while in transit, making it difficult for a trucker to control their vehicle.
Sideswiping is a common occurrence in these situations as the load may shift and send the truck unexpectedly into the other lanes of traffic. It can also lead to a rollover, particularly if the truck is top-heavy or overloaded. Jackknifing is another possibility when the cargo shifts and makes the truck unstable, whipping the trailer towards the front of the truck.
Truck drivers must observe safe driving practices and think of their cargo. Every trucker and trucking company should have a checklist that ensures all safety measures are met before the truck departs for its destination.
If you were in an accident with a truck, you should speak with a truck accident lawyer to see if negligent cargo-loading practices were the cause of the crash