Unsecured cargo is not only dangerous but deadly for drivers on the road. In a study over three years, it was estimated that 200,000 accidents were caused by unsecured cargo falling from trucks.
Unsecured cargo is so widespread that in 2017, the CVSA performed a week-long securement check and found that 15.7% of trucks violated regulations.
Cargo securement regulations are set by the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) and were last updated in 2004. Continue reading to find out what the FMCSA says is the right way to secure your load with tiedowns.
What Is a Tiedown?
The FMCSA’s definition of a tiedown is—a combination of securing devices that form an assembly that:
- Attaches cargo to or restrains cargo on a vehicle
- Is attached to anchor point(s)
If that seems quite vague, that’s because it is. However, the official list of tiedowns includes:
- Webbing Ratchets
Working Load Limit (WLL)
The working load limit (or WLL) is the weight that a securing device can be used without breaking. Each type of tiedown will have its own WLL specified in weight (kg or lbs).
Since different types of tiedowns are commonly used to secure a load, which WLL matters? The FMCSA states that you need to sum up the WLL of all of your tiedowns, but only if they:
- Are attached to an anchor point
- Are attached to the vehicle by going over or through the cargo
The sum of all the tiedown WLL’s must be at least50% of the total weight of the cargo being secured.
How to Properly Secure Cargo With Tiedowns
Every tiedown must be attached and secured so that it doesn’t unfasten, loosen, open, or release during transport. The FMCSA also says that tiedowns must be secured within the rubrails, with the exception of loads being wider than the rubrails.
If a piece of cargo has rigid edges that can cut a tiedown, edge protection must be used. The edge protector must be resistant to abrasion, crushing, and cutting.
Cargo is considered secure if it cannot shift, tip, and is restrained against horizontal movement. Specifically, if only tiedowns are used, they must be strong enough to withstand:
- 0.8 g of deceleration in the forward direction
- 0.5 g of acceleration in the rearward direction
- 0.5 g of acceleration in a lateral (sideways) direction
Lastly, if there’s cargo that isn’t blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction, a minimumnumber of tiedowns must be used.
The FMCSA minimum tiedown rules are:
- 5 ft or less, 1,100 lbs or less = 1 tiedown
- Over 1,100 lbs but 5 feet or less = 2 tiedowns
- 5-10 ft = 2 tiedowns
- Longer than 10 ft = 2 + 1 for every additional 10 ft or fraction thereof
Keep Your Cargo and the Road Safe
You’ll also need to keep an eye on your tiedowns to prevent accidents. Ensure that there isn’t any visible damage, knots, weak parts, or distress on any of your tiedowns.
By properly securing your load with good-quality tiedowns, you can keep your cargo secure and make the roadways safe for everyone.