3 Easy Ways to Prevent Cargo Securement Violations

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TORONTO – What you don’t know will hurt you. That bit of generally good advice can be applied to things like bull fighting, firearms and cooking. And cargo securement too, it seems.

For years, the most pervasive law governing cargo securement was good old-fashioned common sense. That’s no longer good enough, and in fact may cause you even more problems. What may seem intuitive to most could be an infraction to the trained eye of an inspector. It’s as often incorrect procedures that will get you into trouble as inadequate tools.

Regulations governing cargo securement are among the most complex of all the rules we have to follow. In many cases, specific rules govern specific types of cargo. And where no specific rules can be made to apply, inspectors refer to a combination of several other rules that your best efforts will be judged against at roadside-or sometimes, it seems, they just make up the rules as they go. Flat-decking is nerve-wracking. 

In all of 2012, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspectors conducted about two million vehicle inspections across North America. In the cargo-securement sphere, the most common violation found during roadside inspections was “failure to prevent shifting cargo” which accounted for 16,345 citations and a corresponding number of points added to fleets’ safety scores.

Next was “leaking/spilling/blowing/falling cargo” with 10,872 charges. With fines ranging from $250 to over $400 per violation, something in the order of $8.8 million in fines (an estimate using averages) was paid by fleets and drivers.

“Those two cover a multitude of sins,” says Will Schaefer, director of vehicle programs at CVSA. “They are easy for an inspector to spot, and while the officer could get specific about a citation, failure to prevent shifting cargo generally implies the driver hasn’t taken all the steps necessary to properly secure an article of cargo. The other is often related to loose material on the deck of a trailer or cargo box, or material blowing out of the top of a dump box with poor tarps.”          


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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and Trucknews.com, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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