Every state has its drivers who don’t seem to understand even the most basic road safety principles. A subset of these safety-challenged drivers are those who think nothing of carrying all sorts of cargo that isn’t improperly secured. So here’s a question for you: do you know the cargo securement rules in your state?
All 50 states have such laws on the books. Some are stricter than others, but they all have their rules. Violating the rules could lead to a significant fine. It could also lead to cargo falling off a vehicle and hitting a pedestrian, cyclist, or even striking another car.
Rules for Flatbed Trailers
Trucks that travel across state lines are subject to federal regulations. Those that stay within the borders of a given state are subject to that state’s rules. In either case, cargo securement laws governing flatbed trailers are pretty strict.
Truck drivers are required to use tiedowns properly rated for the loads they carry. They also need to use a certain number tiedowns based on the physical dimensions of the load. Finally, they are required to check their tiedowns at regular intervals to make sure everything remains secure.
Rules for Dump Trucks
Given that most dump truck operators don’t work across state lines, their activities are subject to state laws. Most states require that loose cargo be secured with some sort of cover. Think a load of gravel covered by a tarp.
Rules for Passenger Vehicles and Trailers
Most of us will never have to worry about the cargo securement rules pertaining to dump trucks and flatbed trailers. But we have our own rules to worry about. Nearly all the states expect drivers to secure cargo even if they are operating passenger vehicles or towing trailers.
If you are carrying cargo in the back of a pickup truck, you’re expected to keep it secure at all times. The same goes for cargo on the back of utility trailer. And if you carry a loose material on a trailer, your state probably requires that it be covered with a tarp.
One can never go wrong by securely tying down anything that could fall off a passenger vehicle. Whether you are talking a car, truck, or motorcycle, anything not safely contained within the vehicle should be secured with some sort of tiedown.
Basic Tiedown Options
So what tiedown options are available to drivers? There is more than a dozen to choose from. The five most basic options are:
- Rope – Rope is the classic tiedown option and one plenty of people prefer. It is cheap and easy to use.
- Bungee Cords – Bungee cords are the easiest of all tiedowns to use. However, they are not suitable for heavy loads.
- Cinch Straps – Cinch straps combine stainless steel cinch buckles with webbing straps. They are fairly easy to use.
- Ratchet Straps – Ratchet straps are similar to cinch straps except that they have a larger, heavy-duty buckle that utilizes a ratchet to create and maintain tension.
- Chains – The most heavy-duty option is the steel chain. It is only used by professionals for extremely heavy loads.
Getting back to the cinch straps briefly, Rollercam offers a unique kind of cinch strap that utilizes a patented cam buckle to keep things secure. Other manufacturers make cam straps with similar designs. All are just as good as cinch straps, if not better.
Whenever you are carrying cargo that could otherwise break loose and fall from a vehicle, state laws require you to secure it in place. Know what the law requires before you carry any kind of cargo on your vehicle.