A common problem for trucking companies is their trucks getting fines during routine inspections which can often result in fines. There are a variety of reasons for these tickets at roadchecks. However, the most common infractions are for failure to secure truck equipment, damaged tie-downs, insufficient tie-downs, and loose tie-downs. These fines can be expensive for both driver and employer. According to Gladiator Cargo Nets, driver penalties can range from $2,500 to $5,000 while employer penalties can go up to a maximum of $25,000. These fines continue to negatively impact truck drivers and their companies. As of 2015, 2,439 citations were issued for insufficient load securement. In order to avoid these fines, following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules for freight is important.
Looking at Secured Cargo
Bob Dissinger, an expert on load securement laws, commented, “They first and foremost are looking to make sure the proper amount of securement is being used on a load.” He continued by saying, “Looking to see that it’s bulkheaded and if not that it has the proper straps, and they’re checking the condition of the straps, to make sure they’re not overly worn, there are no nicks or cuts. And depending on the load, making sure there’s edge protection to make sure straps won’t be cut by the load.”
Ultimately, Dissinger’s comments reflect cargo inspector’s attention to detail. Many of the infractions, such as worn straps, could easily occur if a trucking company is not routinely checking their equipment. This lapse by trucking companies can quickly result in crippling fines. In order to avoid these violations, trucking companies should implement frequent checks on their harnessing equipment. This way they can find any errors before inspectors do.
Looking at Dislodged Cargo
Another common violation that trucking companies often face is leaking/spilling/blowing/falling cargo. Dissinger notes that inspectors will ticket truckers for seemingly petty issues. Dissinger’s comment “If there is dirt, gravel, loose debris, even a few pebbles on the deck, they consider that loose or blowing cargo” highlights the minute errors that can result in a fine. Drivers can avoid these violations by routinely checking their cargo to ensure spilling has not occurred. Trucking companies can also dismiss fears of fines by hiring their own inspectors to provide classes to their drivers on proper FMCSA guidelines. In these classes, companies can reduce the amount of cargo violations they receive because their drivers will know what cargo inspectors are looking for.
How Many Tie Downs?
A common question that truckers have is how many tie downs are required to “properly” secure their freight. A lapse in judgement can quickly result in pricey fines for the driver and company. It is important to understand “breaking strength” and “working load limit” when looking at tie down requirements.
Breaking Strength: Break strength is the point at which any point of your tie-down will fail.
Working Load Limit (WLL): This term refers to the maximum allowed weight that a certain strap can carry legally. The WLL is always one-third of the breaking strength for straps. This difference between breaking strength and working load limit is so large because it allows for error.
By understanding these terms, and employing their own inspectors, a trucking company can ensure that their fleets are in accordance to FMCSA rules. Taking WLL and breaking strength into account can save trucking companies thousands of dollars in avoiding fines.