Truck News


Straight talk on new cargo securement rules

CALGARY, Alta. – New cargo securement rules are among the latest new legislative developments south of the border.

Kris Phillips of the Montana division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently visited Calgary to discuss evolving legislation stateside.

Although Canada is in the process of adopting the same regulations, some jurisdictions, including Alberta, haven’t yet introduced the rules that went into effect at the beginning of the year in the U.S. Canadian carriers operating in the U.S. must currently comply with the new rules while operating south of the border, even though Canada itself has yet to begin enforcing the changes.

Phillips gave a brief overview of the new rules to fleet managers gathered at a Marsh Canada-sponsored transportation seminar.

Phillips joked the old cargo securement rules could be summed up this way: “Thou shall not fall of the truck.”

“Literally, we used to have to wait until something fell of the truck before we could do something,” she said.

A key phrase in the new set of rules is that cargo must be secured to prevent freight from “leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the vehicle.”

Truckers hauling hay may have to begin tarping their loads to prevent small pieces of hay from blowing off the trailer, said Phillips. Meanwhile, cargo inside a van trailer must also be secure so the truck’s manoeuverability and stability are not affected.

“A five-pound cardboard box won’t be a problem, but a big roll of paper will be,” she said, adding large objects such as paper rolls will have to be secured.

Phillips poked some fun at the individuals who wrote the new legislation when explaining the securement devices must be able to withstand: 0.8 G forward deceleration; 0.5 G rearward acceleration; and 0.5 G lateral acceleration.

“The only way I know how to test that is to gun it up to 60-70 mph and stomp on the brakes and see if it moves,” she joked. “We don’t want you doing that and we don’t want you to have to hire physicists as drivers.”

But if drivers follow all securement rules they will be considered to have met the performance requirements, she said.

Under the new rules, Phillips explained that the working load limit of all tie-downs must equal half the weight of the cargo item.

“If the driver can’t do the math, put an extra strap on it – it’s the easiest way to go,” she suggested.

While drivers may be able to get away with using one strap for each 10 feet of load, two straps must be used on the first 10 feet if the load is not blocked in the front by a header board.

It’s still not necessary to use straps with tie-down markings, said Phillips, but it sure makes the driver’s job easier. She suggested carriers and owner/operators purchase marked tie-downs and hinted these could become law as early as 2010. She also advised using friction mats, which prevent cargo loaded onto a flatdeck from slipping around.

Whenever possible, the tie-downs should be located inside the rub rails, Phillips added.

“They’re called rub rails for a reason – they will rub your straps and wear them out,” she warned.

Edge-protection must be present on straps used to secure abrasive loads and Phillips said inspection officers will enforce this vigilantly.

“We’re not waiting until it rips to tell you that you need edge protection,” she said.

The new rules also featured a number of commodity-specific changes. Among the most drastic are the rules for intermodal container freight. Loaded containers can no longer hang off the end of the chassis. Truckers hauling heavy-equipment and machinery will have to tie down all four wheels, and articulated vehicles that can’t be pinned in the middle must be treated as two vehicles under the new rules.

Phillips’ department is responsible for all carriers operating in Montana. She welcomes questions, which can be phoned in at (406) 449-5304 or submitted via e-mail at

– For more information about the new cargo securement rules, see the special supplement in this issue.

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