Blocking and Bracing
Blocking is used in the front, back, and/or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly against cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement. Bracing is also used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing goes from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls of the cargo compartment.
On flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be secured to keep it from shifting or falling off. In closed vans, tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the proper type and proper strength. Federal regulations require the aggregate working load limit of any securement system used to secure an article or group of articles against movement must be at least one-half times the weight of the article or group of articles. Proper tiedown equipment must be used, including ropes, straps, chains, and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets, clinching components). Tiedowns must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hooks, bolts, rails, rings). See figure 3.2
Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each ten feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo, it should have at least two tiedowns.
There are special requirements for securing various heavy pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry such loads.
Front-end header boards (“headache racks”) protect you from your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the front-end structure is in good condition. The front-end structure should block the forward movement of any cargo you carry.
There are two basic reasons for covering cargo:
Spill protection is a safety requirement in many states. Be familiar with the laws in the states you drive in.
You should look at your cargo covers in the mirrors from time to time while driving. A flapping cover can tear loose, uncovering the cargo, and possibly block your view or someone else’s.
Sealed and Containerized Loads
Containerized loads generally are used when freight is carried part way by rail or ship. Delivery by truck occurs at the beginning and/or end of the journey. Some containers have their own tiedown devices or locks that attach directly to a special frame. Others have to be loaded onto flat bed trailers. They must be properly secured just like any other cargo.
You cannot inspect sealed loads, but you should check that you don’t exceed gross weight and axle weight limits.
Cargo Needing Special Attention
Dry bulk tanks require special care because they have a high center of gravity, and the load can shift. Be extremely cautious (slow and careful) going around curves and making sharp turns.
Hanging meat (suspended beef, pork, lamb) in a refrigerated truck can be a very unstable load with a high center of gravity. Particular caution is needed on sharp curves such as off ramps and on ramps. Go slowly.
Livestock can move around in a trailer, causing unsafe handling. With less than a full load, use false bulkheads to keep livestock bunched together. Even when bunched, special care is necessary because livestock can lean on curves. This shifts the center of gravity and makes rollover more likely.
Over-length, over-width, and/or overweight loads require special transit permits. Driving is usually limited to certain times. Special equipment may be necessary such as “wide load” signs, flashing lights, flags, etc. Such loads may require a police escort or pilot vehicles bearing warning signs and/or flashing lights. These special loads require special driving care.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.