Improper cargo loading and securement can cause injuries, traffic accidents, cargo damage, lawsuits, and even truck rollovers. While truck driving schools cover the topic, loading and securement mistakes still happen for a variety of reasons. Securing and loading cargo is a big topic, and its complete coverage is beyond the scope of one blog post. However, here are four tips that the commercial or owner operator truck driver should find useful:
Keep Heavy Cargo Centered and Low
Heavy cargo that’s offset to the side causes the trailer to tilt on its suspension. This makes the trailer more prone to a rollover when the forces of a hard turn add to the tilt caused by the offset cargo. A heavy load located far to the rear of a trailer can make the trailer more susceptible to jackknifing. Finally, placing heavy cargo too high makes the trailer top-heavy and more prone to tipping over.
Don’t Count on Heavy Cargo to Stay Put
Heavy things are more difficult to push around because their great weight increases their friction with the surfaces they rest on. However, don’t allow this to fool you into not properly securing them down. Why? Because heavy things also have a lot of inertia. When you hit the brakes or turn hard, that object with enormous inertia wants to continue moving forward, and its friction with the trailer bed isn’t enough to hold it in place.
Secure Your Cargo to Resist Motion in All Directions
Braking, accelerating, and turning account for forward, rearward, and sideways motion. But what about upward forces? These can happen from the jarring caused by driving over rough road surfaces. The downward force that strapping exerts on cargo also increases its friction with the trailer bed, which improves its resistance to forward, backward, and sideways motion.
Don’t Count on the Trailer Door to Hold in Cargo
This sets you up to injury from cargo falling on top of you (or someone else) after opening the trailer door. Cargo should never lean against the door. Even though you wouldn’t do this intentionally, this can happen from the jarring motions of transit or when bumping into the dock. Use load bars, load straps, and load locks to hold freight properly inside trailers.
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