Flatbedders face all kinds of logistics challenges: how to safely load, secure and transport unusual items that, because of size, shape and weight can only be transported on a flatbed or stepdeck trailer. And while there isn't an app for loading and securing these specialty-type flatbed loads, the FMCSA does have specific regulations that must be followed.
On January 1, 2004, the FMCSA issued new rules on how to secure different types of flatbed loads, which include all cargo-carrying commercial motor vehicles operated in interstate commerce. This regulation covers all types of cargo, except commodities in bulk, such as seed, grains; liquids, gases, liquid concrete, sand, gravel, aggregates, etc. that lack structure or fixed shape and are transported in a tank, hopper, box or similar device that forms part of the structure of a commercial motor vehicle.
The FMCSA developed specific performance requirements for all secured loads. This covers deceleration in the forward direction, and acceleration in the rearward and lateral directions, (left, right, and upward) that cargo securement systems must withstand. Deceleration is the rate at which the vehicle's speed decreases when the brakes are applied, and acceleration is the rate at which the vehicle's speed increases in the lateral direction or sideways (while the vehicle is turning), or in the rearward direction (when the vehicle is being driven in reverse and makes contact with a loading dock).
The FMCSA requirements include some somewhat complex math and science, but here's the good news:
Generally, truckers and trucking companies are not required to conduct testing of cargo securement systems to determine compliance with the performance requirements. The new rules explicitly state that cargo immobilized or secured in accordance with the general securement rules, or the commodity-specific rules, are considered to meet the performance criteria.
But keep in mind, securing that cargo correctly is important – first, for the safety of the trucker and all who cross his/her path, and second, improperly secured flatbed loads are costly both in dollars and your CSA score, so securing it correctly is imperative.
In future blog posts, I'll discuss regulations covering both general cargo securement requirements and item-specific rules that apply to flatbed, stepdeck and RGN truckers.
Shout-out: any experienced flatbed, stepdeck or RGN trucker who has a load securement story to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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