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3.3 Securing Cargo

Blocking and Bracing

Blocking is used in the front, back and/or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly against cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement. Bracing also is used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing goes from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls of the cargo compartment.

Cargo Tiedown

On flat bed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be secured to keep it from shifting and falling off. In closed vans, tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the proper type and proper strength. The combined strength of all cargo tiedowns must be strong enough to lift one and one-half times the weight of the piece of cargo tied down. Proper tiedown equipment must be used, including ropes, straps, chains, and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets, clinching components). Tiedowns must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hook, bolt, rails, rings).

Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 10 feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo is, it should have at least two tiedowns holding it.

There are special requirements for securing various heavy pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry such loads.

Header Boards

Front-end header boards (“headache racks”) protect you from your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the front-end structure is in good condition and blocks the forward movement of any cargo you carry.

Covering Cargo

There are two basic reasons for covering cargo: (1) to protect people from spilled cargo, and (2) to protect the cargo from weather. Spill protection is a safety requirement in many states. Be familiar with the laws in the states you drive in.

Look at your cargo covers in the mirrors from time to time while driving. A flapping cover can tear loose, uncovering the cargo, and possibly blocking your view or someone elseʼs.

You cannot inspect sealed loads, but you should check that you do not exceed gross weight and axle weight limits.

Sealed and Containerized Loads

Containerized loads generally are used when freight is carried part way by rail or ship. Delivery by truck occurs at the beginning and/or end of the journey. Some containers have their own tiedown devices or locks that attach directly to a special frame. Others have to be loaded onto flat bed trailers. They must be properly secured just like any other cargo.

3.4 Cargo Needing Special Attention

Dry bulk tanks require special care because they often have a high center of gravity, and the load can shift. Be extremely cautious (slow and careful) going around curves and making sharp turns.

Hanging meat (suspended beef, pork, lamb) in a refrigerated truck can be a very unstable load with a high center of gravity. Particular caution is needed on sharp curves such as off ramps and on ramps. Go slow.

Livestock can move around in a trailer, causing unsafe handling. With less than a full load, use false bulkheads to keep livestock bunched together. Even when bunched, special care is necessary because livestock can lean on curves. This shifts the center of gravity and makes rollover more likely.

Over-length, over-width and/or overweight loads require special transit permits. Driving is usually limited to certain times. Special equipment may be necessary, such as “wide load” signs, flashing lights, flags, etc. Such loads may require a police escort or pilot vehicles bearing warning signs and/or flashing lights. These special loads require special driving care. Load them together. If you do not know, ask your employer.

Test Your Knowledge

  • What is the minimum number of tiedowns for any flat bed load?
  • What is the minimum number of tiedowns for a 20-foot load?
  • Name the two basic reasons for covering cargo on an open bed?
  • Name two situations where legal maximum weights may not be safe?

Study sections 3.3 and 3.4 if you can't answer all of these questions.

Make sure you're familiar with what blocking and bracing are and understand how they differ from each other. A question about this might show up on your written exam.

The following information in this paragraph should be memorized:

  • Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 10ft of cargo.
  • No matter how small the cargo is, it should have at least two tiedowns holding it.
You should memorize the two reasons for covering cargo.

Bulkhead:

A strong wall-like structure placed at the front of a flatbed trailer (or on the rear of the tractor) used to protect the driver against shifting cargo during a front-end collision. May also refer to any separator within a dry or liquid trailer (also called a baffle for liquid trailers) used to partition the load.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

Which of the following is true about cargo tiedowns?
  • On flat bed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo that weighs more than 10,000 pounds does not require a tie down
  • The combined strength of all cargo tiedowns must be strong enough to lift three times the weight of the piece of cargo tied down
  • On flat bed trailers or trailers without sides, no matter how small the cargo is, it should have at least two tiedowns holding it
  • Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 25 feet of cargo

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Cargo Tiedown - On flat bed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be secured to keep it from shifting and falling off. In closed vans, tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the proper type and proper strength. The combined strength of all cargo tiedowns must be strong enough to lift one and one-half times the weight of the piece of cargo tied down. Proper tiedown equipment must be used, including ropes, straps, chains, and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets, clinching components). Tiedowns must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hook, bolt, rails, rings).

Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 10 feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo is, it should have at least two tiedowns holding it.


There are special requirements for securing various heavy pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry such loads.

Next
What does it mean to block cargo?
  • Putting a divider between the trailer doors and the product to keep anyone from seeing what product is being hauled
  • Only loading one layer of product to avoid a rollover
  • Securing the front, back, or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding
  • Placing cargo in the center of the trailer for proper load balance

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Blocking is used in the front, back and/or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly against cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement.

Bracing also is used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing goes from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls of the cargo compartment.

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How many tiedowns should a 20-foot load have?
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Quote From The CDL Manual:

Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 10 feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo is, it should have at least two tiedowns holding it.

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