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Truck rules and regulations for properly securing transport cargo

Written by Steve Gursten Posted February 7th, 2013

Truck driver cited for traveling with an unsecured load after colliding with an overpass, losing his cargo

overloaded-truck-securing-transportI came across a bizarre story this week that can be a lesson to truck drivers and to the truck accident attorneys who handle cargo cases. A truck driver in Ohio was hauling a military vehicle that was ready to be scrapped.  The retired vehicle was picked up in Akron, Ohio, and the trucker was heading north to the scrap site.

In a strange turn of events, the driver passed under an overpass on the highway.  There wasn’t enough clearance.  This caused the top of the military vehicle to strike the bridge,  and the collision knocked the vehicle from the flatbed.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt.  The damage to the bridge was minor, and the highway was closed for just a few hours while clean up took place. No other vehicles were involved. All things considered, this very dangerous situation wasn’t all that bad.

How was the truck driver at fault according to cargo securement regulations?

The driver was cited for transporting an unsecured load.

The safety standards for transporting goods interstate are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  These regulations are set out in the FMCSA’s Cargo Securement Rules, a comprehensive guide with proper procedures for transporting goods via truck. They apply to virtually everything hauled.  The Rules, § 393.130 specifies that the regulations apply to heavy vehicles, equipment, and machinery —  like this military vehicle.

The Rules are very specific, and account for lots of different scenarios and loads. For example, § 303.102 sets standards for securing loads accounting for acceleration and deceleration.  Other provisions regulate the use of tie downs (devices designed to fasten the load in place), including their strength, number and maintenance. There are entire sections devoted fully to the transport of logs, concrete pipes, and other obscure loads, like paper rolls.  Even the placement of the cargo is regulated.

For transport of heavy vehicles on wheels, like this military vehicle, the Rules require the load to be secured against movement forward, to the rear, laterally or vertically.  The transporter must also use a minimum of four tie downs, positioned as close as possible to the front and rear of the vehicle (see § 393.130(c)(1) and (2)).  The tie downs themselves are further regulated as well, and must be of a certain strength.

This comprehensive set of Rules casts a wide safety regulatory net.  Transporters have to comply with these regulations and must secure their loads accordingly.  Motor carriers must be familiar with these safety regulations, and make sure that their truck drivers are as well. Remember that next time you are transporting something, or imagine how it would look to see a semi-truck that has articles flying from its cargo…

Related information:  

Trucking regulations

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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