June 6 (2018) was National Secure Your Load Day across the United States. From coast-to-coast, states and local municipalities got on-board with the national effort to remind drivers of the importance of making sure anything they carry on their vehicles must remain secure throughout travel. The annual day is a reminder that unsecured loads are not just a trucker’s problem.
It is very easy to talk about the mayhem caused by unsecured loads and road debris and immediately think of truck drivers. In fairness, truck drivers do contribute their share to the problem. But so do pickup truck and passenger car drivers. So do people who tow trailers behind their cars. Anyone driving a vehicle on public roads while carrying some sort of cargo is responsible for making sure that cargo is fully secured.
Federal and State Laws
At Mytee Products in Aurora, Ohio, sales managers frequently find themselves talking with truck drivers about the best way to secure cargo in accordance with federal and state laws. Both they and their customers are fully aware of how severely truck drivers could be punished if an improperly secured load injures or kills someone.
Mytee Products representatives say they feel as though they have a responsibility to make sure truck drivers are fully equipped with everything they need. They furnish chains, tiedown straps, blocks, winches, and just about everything else a truck driver would need. But it is ultimately up to the driver to make sure things are done according to the law.
It should be noted that truck drivers who cross state lines are subject to federal laws established and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Some drivers who operate only within certain states are also subject to those federal laws. Everyone else must secure cargo in accordance with the laws of the states they operate in.
These state laws apply equally to all drivers irrespective of the vehicles they are operating. For example, a pickup truck driver is equally responsible for making sure that load of trash in his bed stays in the truck throughout transport. That homeowner hauling furniture on a utility trailer is legally obligated to make sure it is secure for the entire journey.
Accidents and Driver Carelessness
It is unfortunate whenever cargo comes loose and causes an accident. Equally unfortunate is the reality that many accidents related to cargo control are the result of driver carelessness. Drivers simply do not take the time or make the effort to properly secure what they are carrying.
Have you ever seen a car traveling down the interstate with a box spring and mattress on top? If so, you have probably witnessed a very poor example of cargo control, encapsulated in a driver and passenger attempting to hold on to the mattress and box spring at highway speeds. This is the kind of thing that injures and kills people.
Many of us have driven by the contractor hauling a load of construction debris not covered by a tarp. We have seen trucks loaded with lawn maintenance equipment not properly secured. We have driven behind dump trucks filled with gravel that spills out onto the road with every bump.
The fact that we have National Secure Your Load Day is evidence that insecure loads continue to be a problem on our highways. It is up to all of us to change that. Improper cargo control is not just a trucker’s problem; it is a problem that applies to drivers of all kinds of vehicles. As such, we all bear some responsibility in bringing an end to it.