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Federal trucking regulations govern cargo securement

As we discussed in our last post, there are a number of ways in which negligence by semi-truck drivers and trucking companies can cause an accident. One form of negligence is a failure to properly secure the truck's cargo. A cargo that shifts while the truck is in motion, or that falls from the truck, can have disastrous consequences on a Montana highway.

To address this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has adopted rules governing the safe securement of cargo. These rules apply to cargo-carrying trucks operating in interstate commerce. They govern all types of cargo except bulk commodities like grain, sand, liquids and gases that are carried in hoppers or tanks that form a structural part of the vehicle itself.

The rules include general rules applicable to all types of cargo. The rules require that all cargo be firmly secured or immobilized on or within the truck. Truckers can use tiedowns, shoring bars and other devices to secure the cargo. Items of cargo that are prone to rolling should be secured with wedges or chocks. The rules include performance criteria for tiedowns and other securement devices.

In addition to the general rules, the FMCSA has adopted detailed rules for specific commodities that present particular securement challenges. These commodities include logs, concrete pipe, intermodal containers, dressed lumber, paper rolls, metal coils, automobiles and other vehicles, and heavy machinery and equipment.

When a shifting or falling load causes a truck accident that injures someone in another vehicle, the victim may have a legal right to pursue a claim for damages. Evidence that the truck company or the driver violated federal cargo securement regulations may result in a finding of liability.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Cargo Securement Rules," accessed Feb. 5, 2017

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