Flatbed Cargo Security
It’s every flatbed truck driver’s worst nightmare – a load that has slid or broken free from its straps and is scattered along the highway. This is perhaps one of the most frightening and dangerous moments in the life of any truck driver. The danger comes not only from the cargo that has broken free from its straps, and could at any moment come ripping through the cab of his rig, but also from the tickets the truck driver will most likely receive from the DOT officers who will respond to the scene.
Unsecured or improperly secured cargo can lead to injuries and death for both the truck driver and other motorists around him. Because of this, it is imperative that all precautions be taken with every load. While not every instance of cargo breaking free can be attributed to truck driver error, more than 90 percent of them could be avoided with a few simple steps.
Check Your Strap Condition
While every flatbed truck driver tightens his straps when he is loaded, one area where many drivers fail to take precautions is strap condition. Each strap on the truck should be inspected before and after every load to ensure there are no cuts or abrasions that could damage the integrity of the strap.
Many drivers keep their straps on ratchets along the sides of their trailers, which allows the weather to attack the strap even when it is no in use. Rocks fly up from the road surface, and can nick the straps leaving holes and cuts that weaken them over time.
Proper inspection of the straps before and after each load can help ensure your cargo is safely secured to your trailer.
Periodic Safety Checks Are A Must
Every flatbed driver is taught to stop within 50 miles of the pickup point to check the load integrity. However, many drivers think that the load was ratcheted plenty tight when it was picked up and there is no way it has worked its way loose. This type of thinking is what leads to accidents where innocent people are killed, and the truck driver loses his driving privileges, or even gets sentenced to prison for negligence.
Stopping within the first 50 miles allows you to check the load to ensure it has not shifted or settled. This will cause the straps to loosen, which places you and the drivers around you in danger. You should check the straps to ensure they are tight and there are no new cuts or abrasions that could cause them to break. Remember to check them each time you stop for fuel, food, or a restroom break, as this helps keep you safe.
Use Straps That Are Approved For Your Load
Be sure that your straps are approved for the load you are carrying. Remember that the total strength of your straps must equal one half of the aggregate weight of your cargo. For most standard loads, such as pipe, simply following the DOT guidelines regarding strap spacing will more than cover the working load limits of your straps.
Don’t skimp on the number of straps you use to secure your load. Adding an extra strap or two will take you an additional 5 minutes, and it could save your life, or the lives of other motorists around you.
Keep yourself from being the driver who has to live with the fact that someone around him was injured or killed due to poor cargo security. Check your straps, secure your load, and perform periodic safety checks to keep your truck in perfect order.