Pancakes, sausages and some cargo securement tips on the side

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BALZAC, Alta. – The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) and Alberta Transportation’s Inspection Services recently hosted an information session and pancake breakfast for drivers at the Balzac scales.

The annual event attracts drivers, fleet managers and a number of inspection officers from various enforcement agencies.

Once everyone had a chance to fill their bellies with pancakes and sausages, inspection officers took the opportunity to shed some light on the new cargo securement regulations.

While the new rules came into effect Feb. 1 in Alberta, the province recently announced it’s extending its educational period until Oct. 1.

“I think the majority of the truckers are adjusting to this new regulation pretty good,” says transport officer Mike Collins. “They want to do it right. We get swamped with questions.”

Two tractor-trailers were on-hand at the scales to demonstrate some of the most common violations inspection officers encounter.

Truck West spent some time with Collins and asked for a rundown of the five most common violations inspection officers run into.

1. Insufficient straps: Not enough chains and straps is the most common load securement violation, according to Collins.

If an item does not have forward blocking, then it requires at least two tiedowns if it’s more than five feet in length (or more than 500 kg).

To avoid costly fines, drivers should err on the side of caution and affix extra straps when in doubt.

2. Loose debris: Collins says many trailers have loose sand and gravel that can fly off the trailer while running down the highway. “In a case like that, what we make them do is sweep it off,” Collins says. “Even a little bit can break somebody’s windshield and that’s what the majority of complaints we get is – windshield’s being broken by pieces of gravel and dirt coming off the trucks.”

3. Slack tiedowns: Another common infraction is having straps and chains that are too loose.

“The truck’s been going down the road and the strap or chain has come loose,” explains Collins.

At least tightening up the straps or chains is a quick and easy fix. It doesn’t hurt to ensure the chains and straps are still tight each time the driver gets out of the truck.

4. Poor paperwork: Collins says another common mistake involves a lack of information on the bill of lading. The bill of lading should always have the weight of the load on it, he says.

“The bills of lading are supposed to indicate the weight of the load but a lot of them don’t and then we have to determine the weight of the load in order to satisfy ourselves that the straps and chains are sufficient,” he says.

5. Damaged tiedowns: “We see a lot of frayed straps,” says Collins, noting straps should be replaced if they are torn or frayed at the edges.

“If the frayed area or tear in a strap is over a certain width, then we’ll make them replace the strap,” he adds.

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