More from: cargo control

RoadCheck 2018 – Start Thinking Cargo Control

The 2018 CVSA RoadCheck is less than two months away. The annual event will be held this year from June 5-7 all across North America. Inspectors will be on the lookout for the kinds of violations that could have you or your truck taken out of service for a considerable length of time.

News reports state that the 2018 RoadCheck will focus mainly on hours of service rules and the new ELD mandate. However, drivers should not let their guards down. Inspectors will also be looking at cargo control and the general condition of mechanical systems. As a company specializing in cargo control ourselves, our main priority is to make sure our customers have everything they need to both pass inspection and stay safe on the roads.

A Better Year in 2018

It is rather appropriate for us to talk about cargo control in relation to this year’s RoadCheck based on what happened last year. The main priority in 2017 was cargo control. And even though inspectors put a record number of trucks out of service due to cargo control violations, such violations were not the number one reason for out of service actions. The biggest problem in 2017 was hours of service violations.

It is kind of ironic that hours of service were such a problem even though the focus was on cargo control. This year the focus is on hours of service, but inspectors will still be looking for cargo control violations. It is our hope that drivers do better this year than last – in every area inspectors decide to look at.

A better year means fewer out of service actions. It means more secure cargo, safer roads, and fewer penalties for drivers and their employers. It even means a better reputation for an industry that has been struggling in that area for a while.

Cargo Control Tips for the 2018 RoadCheck

Mytee Products cannot do much to help you with hours of service and ELDs. We can help with cargo control. Here are a few tips we recommend for the last few weeks heading into the 2018 RoadCheck:

Check Your Equipment

Inspectors will be looking closely at the condition of your straps, chains, and ratchets during roadside checks. So make the time now to check all your equipment for wear and tear. If anything needs replacing, order it as soon as possible. We want you to have it in time.

Review Procedures

Familiarity can sometimes cause drivers to forget the standard procedures for properly securing cargo. Over the next few weeks, review your procedures to make sure they are fresh in your mind. You might even create a procedural checklist you can follow to get yourself back into the habit of employing best practices.

Think Overkill

Spend the next few weeks thinking overkill. In other words, do more than you know is necessary to correctly secure your cargo. An inspector will never penalize you for having too many straps, so spend a few extra minutes to add one more.

Check More Often 

You already check your loads at regular intervals throughout your journey. From now through the end of June, check more often. It only takes a few minutes to make sure your cargo is still secure. The payoff for doing so could be huge in the midst of the 2018 RoadCheck.

Again, if you need any cargo control supplies prior to RoadCheck 2018, order them as soon as you can from Mytee Products. We want to make sure you have everything you need before inspections begin in earnest.


Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top


A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.


Gifts to Fill the Trucker’s Tool Boxes

The average 18-wheeler is equipped with multiple aluminum tool boxes packed full of equipment and supplies. This time of year, truck drivers appreciate receiving the kinds of gifts that can fill their tool boxes for the coming year. Below are some suggestions of items you can purchase here at Mytee Products.

Bear in mind that each of the items on our list is something a flatbed trucker needs on a regular basis. Unfortunately, truckers can get so busy at times that they forget to restock their supplies. If you have a trucker in your life that you are planning to buy for this holiday season, why not get some of the items he or she needs to keep his/her tool boxes fully stocked?

Sliding Winches

Sliding winches run across rails fixed below the bed of a flatbed trailer. Truckers use them to attach the winch straps they use to tie down cargo. Sliding winches do not break all that often, which is why a lot of truckers fail to keep a couple of spares on hand. You can save your favorite trucker hours of frustration by gifting a few sliding winches.

Chain Binders

Chain binders are another specialty item truckers don’t have to replace all that frequently. Having said that, there is a varierty of chain binders for different purposes. The trucker in your life might appreciate you asking if there is a specific binder he or she needs. You could then make the purchase and surprise your loved one on Christmas morning.

Tarp Repair Kits

A trucker’s aluminum tool boxes are likely to include a selection of truck tarps for all sorts of loads. What might be missing is a tarp repair kit. This may not seem like a big deal, but having a tarp repair kit on board could mean the difference between getting a load right away and having to wait until repairs can be made. Truck tarps are an important part of the trucker’s livelihood, so a good repair kit can be invaluable.

Corner and Edge Protectors

It might be hard to imagine that something so seemingly insignificant as a plastic corner protector is like gold to a truck driver. But it is. Truckers use corner and edge protectors of all shapes and sizes to keep cargo safe during transport. Furthermore, the truck driver can never have enough of these handy little devices lying around. Consider stocking your favorite trucker’s tool boxes with a good selection of corner and edge protectors.

Reflective Tape

Reflective tape is another seemingly insignificant item that people just don’t think about. Even truckers do not give reflective tape much thought until they actually need it. You can help your favorite trucker avoid unnecessary down time by throwing a roll or two of reflective tape in his/her stocking this Christmas.

Air Brake Hose

A failing air hose can mean big problems for truckers. That’s why it’s common for them to carry extra hose on board. At the first sign of a potential air brake failure, it doesn’t take much to swap a hose. Thus, gifting air brake hoses to your favorite trucker this holiday season means one less thing he or she needs to worry about on the road.

Bungee straps

If all else fails, the tried and true bungee strap is a fail safe gift for your favorite trucker. Truckers can never have too many bungee straps in their tool boxes. Bungee straps are used every day for a long list of purposes, but they wear out and break all the time. We are positive the trucker in your life would appreciate a bag of bungee straps.


6 Important Things to Know about Tire Chains

Do you routinely drive in regions requiring snow chains during the winter? If so, you know all about what it means to chain up before heading into bad weather. If you are new to trucking or winter driving, tire chains may be foreign to you. One thing is for sure in either case: chains can cause a lot of problems if you don’t know how to use them.

Mytee Products carries tire chains for both 22.5-inch in 24.5-inch tire chains. We invite you to purchase your chains through us, along with all your cargo control supplies including tarps, bungee straps, ratchet straps, and edge protectors.

In the interests of advancing public safety, we have compiled a list of six important things to know about tire chains. Know and understand these things, whether you are a veteran or a rookie.

1. Keep to a Safe Speed

Tire chains are only intended to withstand a certain amount of punishment. Drivers should never exceed speeds of 30 mph when chained. Going any faster could cause chains to break while in motion. This could be dangerous for driver and vehicle alike.

2. Avoid Bare Pavement

Tire chains do not hold up well against bare pavement either. So while there may be some instances when it’s necessary to drive short distances on bare pavement, the practice should be avoided as much as possible. As soon as a driver gets through the area of snow-covered roads, he or she should find a place to pull off and remove the chains.

3. Chains Slip on Pavement

Something else to note about chains is they tend to slip on bare pavement. If a driver is braking on bare pavement while still chained up, he/she has to be more gentle in the process. It is very easy to lock up the wheels and slide on chains. On the other end, hitting the gas too aggressively could cause the drive wheels to spin on bare pavement. Drivers should accelerate slowly.

4. Routine Inspections Are Necessary

Truckers will naturally tighten their chains when first deploying them. However, it is generally recommended that chains be inspected and re-tightened at regular intervals. Chains will loosen as the miles roll by, making them subject to breakage.

5. Chained Tighteners Can Cause Problems

Chain tightening devices have a tendency to pull chains off-center if they are not used the right way. A driver who is not intimately familiar with how to use such a device should avoid doing so. There are other ways to effectively tighten chains.

6. State Regulations

Nearly every state in the union has some sort of regulations in place pertaining to tire chains. Truck drivers should make themselves familiar with those regulations in any states where they plan to work during the winter months. Running afoul of the regulations could result in a citation.

Along those same lines, there are a few key regions in the U.S. were chains are mandatory during the winter. In some of these regions truckers will find chains at highway department chain banks. A word to the wise though: drivers should not rely solely on chain banks to meet their needs. If no chains are available when a driver reaches the start of a mandatory chain area, he or she will have to wait until a set is available.

Tire chains are part of winter driving for truck drivers. Hopefully you have had some experience chaining up your truck. If not, you will probably have to learn eventually. Just remember that chaining up is not the end of the world. You will get pretty good at it with enough practice.