Cargo Securement Regulations: What Are They?
General Cargo Securement Regulations
According the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the general cargo securement regulations are that the cargo must be immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by the following methods:
- structures of adequate strength
- dunnage (loose materials use to help support and protect cargo)
- dunnage bags (inflatable bags)
- shoring bars
- combination of methods listed above
New Cargo Securement Regulations
In September 2002, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published new cargo securement regulations, based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. (Note: The rules have not been changed or otherwise updated since they took effect in 2002.)
The new regulations are based on new performance criteria for deceleration and acceleration which require semi-truck drivers to change the way they use load securement devices to prevent articles from shifting on or in, or falling from commercial motor vehicles. The intent of these new cargo securement regulations is to reduce the number of truck crashes caused by cargo shifting in or falling from commercial tractor-trailers operating in interstate commerce.
The new performance criteria that load securement systems must be capable of withstanding in terms of forces associated with deceleration and acceleration are:
- 0.8 g deceleration in the forward direction
- 0.5 g acceleration in the rearward direction
- 0.5 g acceleration in a lateral direction
The changes may require Michigan truck drivers to increase the number of tie-downs used to secure certain types of cargo.
Commodity Specific Requirements vs General Requirements
The FMCSA has commodity specific requirements for commodities that are considered hard to determine the most suitable way to secure the load. These commodity specific requirements take precedence over the general requirements. The types of commodities that have specific load securement requirements are:
- Dressed lumber and similar building products
- Metal coils
- Paper rolls
- Concrete pipe
- Intermodal containers
- Automobiles, light trucks and vans
- Heavy vehicles, equipment and machinery
- Flattened or crushed vehicles
- Roll-on/roll off or hook-lift containers
- Large boulders
What happens when truck drivers ignore cargo securement regulations?
Since the result of a load shift or lost load can be disastrous, cargo securement regulations have been put into law for the safety of the truck drivers and other drivers on Michigan roads.
The key point for any lawyer handling a truck accident caused by a truck load shift must be to understand that such accidents are almost always preventable. Often, working with the right truck accident expert and doing a thorough investigation on how the truck was loaded and by who, is crucial to proving negligence in these cases.
The general rule is that a truck driver is responsible for the load that he or she is transporting. To avoid accidents, the truck driver must have knowledge of the cargo, the cargo weight limits, optimum placement of the load and proper cargo securement.
Further, the cargo must be inspected by the truck driver during the pre-trip inspection and again after the first 25 miles of travel. More truck inspections are required after driving for a certain amount of time and distance, in addition to when the truck driver takes a break or has a change of duty.
Sealed load truck accidents
It is only when the load is sealed and the truck driver has been instructed not to open the seal, that he isn’t required to make that inspection. However, sealed loads still can cause truck accidents.
Regarding the securement of a sealed load, the shipper who loaded and sealed the truck is legally responsible for the respective crash. These “sealed load” cases are often pursued as strict liability cases against the shipper.
Often the injured party is the truck driver, who is helpless in these situations and at the mercy of the shipper who loaded his trailer.
Experienced truck attorneys should investigate all of the underlying facts.
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