This past May was designated as Cargo Securement Awareness Month by a number of trucking industry organizations in anticipation of the annual International Roadcheck that took place in early June. The focus of this year’s road check blitz was cargo control. Now that both events have come and gone, there is a temptation among both employed truck drivers at companies and independent contractors to get somewhat lax about cargo control.
This should not be the case. Truck drivers and their employers should not be concentrating on cargo control only when they know roadside inspections are coming. They should be striving for consistency throughout the year. In light of that, there are five keys to ensuring consistent cargo control. If you are truck driver practicing all five, keep up the good work.
1. Know the Rules
The first key is to know the rules. This should be obvious. Truck drivers cannot be consistent in their cargo control practices if they do not know what is required by law. As just one example, truck drivers need to know there are special rules that apply to specific kinds of cargo like metal coils, paper rolls, hazardous materials, and intermodal containers. Cargo that does not fall under one of the special categories then falls under the general freight rules.
As a side note, knowing the rules means staying abreast of changes. As with everything else the government does, cargo control rules evolve over time. Drivers and employers need to evolve with them to maintain consistency.
2. Understand the Application
It is not enough just to know the rules about cargo securement. Drivers need to understand what they mean and how they apply in the real world. For example, a driver needs to understand both the rules regarding working load limits and their real-world applications for each and every load. If that driver does not know how to apply the working load limit principle, the rules will not do him/her much good.
3. Find a Trusted Supplier
The next key to consistent cargo control is to find a trusted supplier for things like chains, straps, ratchets, and binders. Mytee Products, an Ohio retailer of cargo control supplies, says being able to trust that your supplier will always carry the necessary equipment makes cargo control a lot easier. A trusted supplier will maintain a complete inventory of high-quality equipment. They will be able supply truck drivers on demand.
4. Check on Shippers
Next is the principle of checking on shippers. Far too many truck drivers allow shippers to completely control the loading and securement process rather than handling it themselves. When it’s time to go, they simply do a cursory pre-trip inspection and drive off. This is not good on multiple levels. Most importantly, the driver is responsible for the load the minute he/she puts his/her truck in motion. No driver should ever allow a shipper to handle the loading and securement process unchecked.
5. Consistent Inspections
Lastly, consistent cargo control requires consistent inspection of loads. Drivers are required by law to check their loads prior to departure and within the first 50 miles of travel. After that, they should use common sense. Checking loads every time there’s a fuel or food stop is a good starting point. Additional inspections may be warranted by weather conditions or other factors.
Consistent cargo control is no accident. Drivers and employers expecting such consistency have to take a proactive approach to ensure its reality. They cannot wait until the annual International Roadcheck or the implementation of something like Cargo Securement Awareness Month. Indeed, consistent cargo control is a way of life.