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Understanding the rules regarding cargo security

When clients who’ve been involved in a truck accident come to see us here at the offices of Escandon, Fernicola, Anderson, and Covelli, it’s often not due to a collision, but rather an accident involving cargo. Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers transport everything from corrosive agents to construction materials. Yet even cargo that might not seem dangerous can easily turn into fast-flying debris on a highway if it’s not secured properly. In this post, we’ll examine the federal guidelines in place regarding commercial cargo.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the commercial trucking industry, and thus creates the rules that stipulate the manner of cargo that certain vehicles can transport and the weight of that cargo which they can carry. Along those lines, the FMCSA created a new set of guidelines in 2002 concerning securing items for transport. Specifically, these regulations pertain to cargo that meets the following criteria:

  •          Logs, lumber, and building materials
  •          Metal coils and paper rolls in excess of 5,000 lbs.
  •          Boulders weighing more than 11,000 lbs. or with a volume of more than 2 cubic meters
  •          Heavy machinery and vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs.
  •          Concrete pipe
  •          Intermodal and roll-on/roll-off containers

In order to remain compliant with FMCSA standards, cargo be secured to withstand decelerations at 80 percent the force of gravity while going forward, and accelerations at 50 percent traveling backwards or side-to-side. Furthermore, if dunnage bags are not used to prevent the forward movement of cargo, that cargo must be secured by at least one tiedown for every 10 ft. of its length. Those tiedowns must support at least one half the total weight of the items being transported.

For more information on the conditions that can lead to truck accidents, visit our Trucking Accidents page. 

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