Stay on top of your ship(ment): A modern solution to securing cargo

With thousands of tons of cargo moving on the roads each day, collisions are bound to happen. Inclement weather, reckless driving by others, wildlife darting across the roadway -  these are all things beyond our control. However, one of the leading causes of big rig collisions is well within our control by exploring simple and modern solutions.  Drivers and fleet managers can easily and significantly decrease the likelihood of costly mishaps.

Improperly secured cargo can cause a significant loss of money and time, and most importantly, it can lead to injury and even death. While traveling at highway speeds, a truck’s cargo can easily affect its momentum. If a load is not properly secured and monitored, it can shift throughout the duration of the trip and eventually cause a driver to lose control. Combine that with bad weather, other reckless drivers and wildlife, and you have a high potential for collisions.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates how cargo is secured on motor carriers on the roads. By examining a number of variables – truck size, speed and deceleration and cargo weight - they’ve developed a set of rules about how to restrain cargo and what types of restraints and anchor points can be used. The regulations are straight-forward and most drivers are comfortable with a visual inspection and paper log of their cargo and vehicle before a trip. But while you’re driving, things can happen. Though it's recommended that drivers stop and check their load every three hours, 150 miles, or whenever they make a change of duty status, issues may arise that they won’t be aware of.

And while we’d all like to think that intuition and/or years of experience would be enough to make us wary of when a problem might pop up, its just not enough and we don’t really know.

Walk-arounds, paper-based inspections and regular stop schedules are simply not enough to accurately protect a truck and its cargo. There are too many variables for drivers to manage, but there is easy to use technology that can help ensure that drivers better manage their load securement checks by collecting and reporting small issues electronically before they become disasters. I encourage the use of electronically verified inspections, with drivers’ safety in mind, though it can simultaneously save money, decrease downtime, prevent additional damage to both cargo and vehicle, and keep drivers and fleet managers compliant with various inspection regulations.  By also verifying that an inspection has taken place through RFID tag scans and telematics, fleet managers receive better insights into operations in real time, and drivers get peace of mind that their accountability of inspections is easily verifiable.  

Give your approach a second thought as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 30th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 6-8, with a special focus on cargo securement. Drivers on the road at this time can expect to get checked on 37 inspection steps including documentation, brake systems, suspensions, etc. With $217 million in revenue lost last year due to violations found during roadside inspections*, drivers and companies simply can’t afford to rely on outdated methods to pass inspection.

The bottom-line is: drivers have a lot to manage on their trips. Electronically verified inspections can help them focus on staying safe at the wheel without relying on intuition, a funny sounding noise, or the sight of cargo sliding out of their trailer to alert them to a problem!

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