How to Properly Use Tie Downs to Safely and Legally Secure Cargo Loads

Do not underestimate the value of properly securing cargo. This is evident in the 2017 CVSA International Roadcheck where 15.7% of vehicles were put out of service due to improper cargo security.

Other consequences of inefficient cargo control securement are the following:

  • Fines and citations
  • Vehicle damage
  • Cargo damage
  • Load loss
  • Loss of life

Securing cargo loads properly is therefore a necessity. Below are ways on how tie downs can be used to make sure cargo is safely and legally secured.

The facts about tie downs

The FMCSA or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defines a tie down as a mixture of securing-devices which produce an assembly. These devices include the following:

  • Webbing
  • Chain
  • Binders
  • Rope
  • D-rings
  • Shackles
  • Webbing ratchet

The purpose of all these is to form an assembly intended to perform the following functions:

  • Attach cargo to a vehicle
  • Restrain cargo on a vehicle
  • Attach to an anchor point

In terms of the working load limit (WLL) of a tie down, the WLL is the lowest of any of its parts or any of the anchor points it is connected to – whichever is less. Each device adds to the securement system of the WLL.

Also, it is highly advisable to utilize tie downs on storage trailers or Toronto Trailers. Tie downs are clearly rated and marked by the manufacturer. These marks make it convenient for shippers and inspectors to properly verify the equipment you are using.

How to secure cargo using tie downs

The effectivity and safety of tie downs are only as good as how secure they are to the vehicle and cargo. It is therefore a must that time and effort is spent in the proper logical securement of the cargo. Tie downs can be used in two ways:

  • They can be attached to the cargo by first attaching them to the vehicle or they could also be initially attached to the vehicle, passed around or through the cargo and again attached to the vehicle
  • They can also be passed over the cargo by first attaching them to the vehicle, and doing the latter anew

Proper cargo securement inspection

Cargo must be periodically inspected during transit. The effort it requires to assess them actually saves you precious time and money in the long run. Be aware that a loose strap could be costly or lethal if left undetected. Always remember to make necessary cargo adjustments and check load securement devices to make sure it will not fall or shift from the vehicle.

Evident signs you need new tie-downs

The presence of any of the below items indicate potential problems which needs to be addressed immediately. Doing so helps you avoid load loss and inspection penalties.

  • Visible damage
  • Knots
  • Weak parts
  • Weak sections
  • Distress

Tie down components need to be properly working specially during long trips. They need to be secure and tight in all types of weather conditions. Unsecured cargo has been responsible for more than 200,000 crashes and 500 deaths in America alone. These numbers are based on the records of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Efficient ways to properly transport and secure your cargo

In order to avoid confusion, the following are straightforward steps to effectively secure cargo.

  • Use the correct equipment

Invest in good quality equipment such as ratchet straps and anchor points. Tie-down straps are a critical necessity to adequately keep your cargo restrained. These also carry rated capacities to help you determine the amount of weight you will be able to haul. Purchase straps and tie-down points based on the amount of cargo you will carry. 

Though a few trucks have anchors already built-in, they are usually stuck to the bottom. It is better to mount anchor points in rail stake pockets as doing so provides you with further security even when carrying taller loads.

  • Know the load capacity of your truck

Read your truck’s owner’s manual to determine its gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. This detail could also be seen on the rim of your driver’s door. Exceeding a truck’s load capacity could cause your vehicle to be damaged. Overloading your truck’s capacity could also be a threat to other drivers.

  • Place heavy loads near the truck’s cab

Doing so halts your truck from experiencing unnecessary back side pressure which eventually results to poor handling and steering. Placing heavier loads near the cab of the truck also helps distribute weight thereby keeping the vehicle stable. It will also save you gas.

  • Load needs to be tied on both sides

Once the cargo is laid down, it needs to be secured to the bed. Two ratchet straps must be ran on the bed floor. One can be ran near the floor’s tailgate while the other is at the end of the cab. Cargo is then laid atop the ratchet straps. 

Loops are then made around the cargo. These will later be strapped to the anchor points. Ensure that the loops are tight. The cargo needs to be secure on the back as well as on both sides. Doing these helps prevent the load from sliding despite driving with tailgates on.

Conclusion

Most truck owners and drivers have the tendency to avoid using high quality tie downs for cargo securement. Instead, they prefer to use ropes or any available equipment they happen to find in their garage. This serves as a costly if not dangerous precedent and must be avoided at all costs. Using the proper straps and tie downs are a necessity for your peace of mind as well as for the purposes of transport efficiency.

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