Semi Truck Cargo Handling and Inspections

Just as important as the quality and inspection of the commercial vehicle's equipment, there are extensive federal regulations that address the cargo that is so often being transported.

49 CFR 393.100 - Which types of commercial motor vehicles are subject to the cargo securement standards of this subpart, and what general requirements apply?

All trucks, truck tractors, semi trailers, full trailers, and pole trailers must have their cargo secured in such a way to prevent any leakage, spilling, blowing, or falling from the motor vehicle. In addition such cargo must be secured in such a way to prevent it from shifting any way that affects the commercial vehicle's stability or maneuverability.

This means that regardless of how difficult the road may be to drive on, is no excuse for a semi truck to lose control based on an unstable or unbalanced load. It also means that any accident caused by cargo falling or spilling from a commercial vehicle could be pursued as a violation of this federal regulation.

49 CFR 102 thru 49 CFR 114

Within these sections are specific rules establishing the allowable standards for cargo chains, wire, rope, straps, webbing, and cordage. Various regulations are in place that mandate the amount of force such devices must withstand as well as the ratio of load weight to tightness that must be used. For example, the downward force used to secure cargo to a semi truck that is resting on an open trailer must be 20% of the weight of the cargo itself. This would mean that for every 1000 pounds of cargo there must be at least 200 pounds of downward pressure securing it to the trailer.

These sections also include additional details such as the prohibition of damaged securement devices, anchor points that are used to attach securement devices, and how each tiedown must be secured to prevent it from coming loose and protected from any potential damage or abrasion where it comes in contact with the cargo or vehicle.

Cargo that has any chance of rolling must be secured by chocks, wedges, or cradles to prevent such movement. In addition, requirements exist mandating the number of tiedowns necessary depending on the weight and size of the cargo. With respect to the tiedown devices themselves, other than steel strapping, all tiedown devices must be capable of being tightened by the semi truck driver.

Finally, there must also be protection from the cargo falling not just off the rear or sides of the trailer, but also from coming in contact with the tractor side of the vehicle.

49 CFR 393.116 thru 393.136 Specific Securement Requirements by Commodity Type

49 CFR 392.9 - Inspection of cargo, cargo securement devices and systems.

Separate from general and emergency equipment inspection, section 392.9 covers the requirements of inspecting commercial cargo and the devices that secure it to the vehicle.

The regulation reiterates that the cargo must be distributed and secured according to appropriate standards as set forth above.