Installing Headache Racks and Bulkheads: A Smart Move

Every now and then if you look up an online trucker forums, you will come across questions from new flatbed drivers asking whether headache racks and bulkheads are required by law. The questions are reasonable given the rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate cargo control. Thankfully, the questions are easy to answer.

Headache racks and bulkheads are not required by federal regulations. However, using them is still smart as it protects cargo and prevents damage. If a truck owner has the opportunity to install one or both without causing major inconvenience or financial stress, it would not make sense to decline said opportunity.

What the Law Says

A quick perusal of the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook makes it clear that truck drivers are required by law to make sure cargo is properly secured. This includes doing whatever is necessary to prevent forward movement. In a flatbed situation, that means making sure that either tie-downs or some sort of barrier is in place to prevent cargo from moving forward on the trailer.

The handbook includes numerous illustrations along with hard numbers demonstrating what the law requires. It shows the difference between preventing forward movement with a bulkhead and doing it just with tiedown straps instead. The important thing to know is that the law requires a certain number of tie-downs, based on the length and weight of the cargo, if no bulkhead or headache rack is in place.

Drivers also have to pay attention to the working load limits (WLLs) of their tiedown straps. These limits are part of the calculation necessary to determine the number of tie-downs necessary to prevent forward movement of cargo. Too few tie-downs equal a violation.

Meeting the Demands of Customers

Although federal law does not mandate the use of headache racks or bulkheads, there are some shippers who are particular about their usage. Two good examples are rail and pipe loads. A shipper may insist that an owner-operator utilize a bulkhead just for an extra measure of safety.

Such requests do not seem unreasonable for certain kinds of cargo. A contained, rectangular load is fairly easy to secure against forward movement with straps over the top and around the front. But it is not so easy for a load of pipe. And whether or not a truck driver agrees, shippers insisting on bulkheads are not going to release a load until they are confident it will be secure during transport.

From our perspective, insisting on a bulkhead or headache rack for certain kinds of loads is no different than shippers insisting that tarps be used. Their main priority is to protect cargo and limit liability. Preventing forward movement via a bulkhead or headache rack may be the best way to do it in their eyes.

Buy What You Need from Mytee Products

Given the federal mandates for securing cargo and the fact that some shippers insist on bulkheads or headache racks, it just makes sense to install one or both on your equipment. You will be pleased to know that Mytee Products has everything you need. We carry both headache racks and bulkheads, along with the appropriate mounting systems.

Headache racks and bulkheads may not be required by law, but it’s still smart to use them. Both prevent forward movement of cargo and protect you as the driver. Both represent an affordable way to protect yourself as well as your investment in your equipment. After all, it doesn’t take much to cause a big problem. Just a little bit of forward movement could cause you a big headache you don’t really want.

 


Get Ready for the 2018 CVSA Roadcheck

We tend to devote a lot of our blog space to talking about things like truck tarps, tow truck accessories, and supplies for farming operations. We want to deviate a bit with this post by talking about the annual CVSA Roadcheck. It is now less than one month away.

Every year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts their annual Roadcheck event as a way to remind both truck drivers and motor carriers to go the extra mile to make sure they are in compliance. Every year that Roadcheck has a different focus.

Last year’s focus was cargo control. Inspectors were out in full force during the first week of June checking everything from tie-downs to the integrity of chains and ratchet straps. Thousands of trucks were found in violation, many of which were taken out of service until problems were rectified.

Hours of Service Rules for 2018

The Roadcheck this year focuses on drivers’ hours of service. As you know, the ELD mandate that went into effect this past December makes it a requirement for drivers to track their on-duty hours using an electronic logging device. Although ELD enforcement has been spotty to date, the annual Roadcheck is an opportunity to remind drivers that strict enforcement will begin in earnest very soon.

Whether you agree with the ELD mandate or not, it is what it is. It is a necessary part of modern trucking. The mandate is the same for open deck drivers, dry van haulers, reefer drivers, tanker haulers, and even hazmat drivers.

Be sure you are prepared by having a working ELD on your truck. Also start paying a lot more attention to your pre-trip inspections. Law enforcement will be looking at other things as well during the 2018 Roadcheck.

Don’t Forget Cargo Control

As experts in cargo control for the trucking industry, we are smart enough to know that CVSA inspectors will not be ignoring violations just because the focus of this year’s Roadcheck event is hours of service. They will still be looking at how well cargo is secured.

Now would be a good time to go through your inventory of cargo control supplies to make sure you have everything you need to do the job safely and in full compliance. If any of your ratchet straps are worn for example, replace them now. Do not wait for an inspector to give you the evil eye and a possible violation.

Make sure you have enough straps, chains, and blocks on board. Make sure you are paying attention to working load limits as well as the length and width of your loads. And if you’re not utilizing a bulkhead at the front of your open deck trailer, refresh your memory on the extra tie-downs necessary to prevent your loads from shifting.

Let’s Do Better Than Last Year

Although the results of last year’s Roadcheck were comparatively good, there were still far too many violations found. Let’s all work together to do better this year. Let us show CVSA inspectors and the general public that our industry does truly care about safety and regulations.

If you are having any trouble with your ELD, contact its manufacturer or your employer, if applicable. For cargo control supplies, contact us at Mytee Products. We have everything you need to haul just about any kind of load.

The 2018 CVSA Roadcheck is almost upon us. Are you ready? Hopefully you are, because the first week of June will be here before you know it. And with it will come on army of inspectors and law enforcement officers looking for violations.


Auto Hauling: When You Need Your Equipment to Work

When a tow operator goes out on the interstate to recover a car from a ditch, he wants to know that all his equipment is going to work right. The same goes for an operator who gets a call from a local resident whose car will not start. He/she needs to know that he/she has the equipment and supplies to retrieve the car and transport it to the garage.

There are two other kinds of towing equally dependent on properly working equipment. However in both these additional situations, there is an extra challenge: speed. Tow operators involved in repossessions and illegally parked cars need to hook up and be gone quickly. They really need their equipment to work on every single job.

Car Repossessions

Car repossessions are a boon for towing companies that offer repo services. And in recent years, there has been a lot of work available.

In 2017 alone, there were some 6 million Americans behind on their car payments by at least 90 days. That is right at the repossession threshold. For tow truck operators, repossessions are risky. They have to be very careful about what they do, and they have to be quick about it.

Once a tow operator identifies the target vehicle he or she must pull up, hook it, and go as quickly as possible. The operator might be delayed by having to pull the car out of a parking space before it can be hooked. If he/she’s operating a flatbed wrecker, pulling the vehicle up onto the neck takes extra time. That operator will be using his/her entire inventory of chains and tow straps if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

Towing Illegally Parked Cars

Almost as stressful as repossession is the task of towing an illegally parked car. This could be a car parked in the street or in a private parking lot. Either way, the tow operator’s goal is to get the car out of there before an angry owner comes out to confront him/her. He or she really needs to know all the equipment is working properly.

Like the repo tow operator, an operator towing illegally parked cars relies on a series of chains and straps, to secure the vehicle to the tow truck. Different setups utilize different supplies. It’s in the best interest of a tow operator to know which chains, straps, and hooks are ideal for each kind of situation. And with a little practice, the operator can become very adept at deploying those chains and straps under pressure.

Get Your Towing Supplies Here

Mytee Products offers tow operators a complete inventory of equipment and supplies. We have your chains, straps, hooks, and even external tow lights. Everything you need under one roof makes keeping your tow truck fully stocked as easy and convenient as possible.

We certainly don’t envy you if you work repossession or illegally parked jobs. That’s tough work when you consider how confrontational car owners can be. We understand you need your towing equipment to work correctly every time.

We invite you to browse our inventory for all your towing needs. Each of our products is made to exacting standards that you can depend on. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

 



How To Avoid The Top 5 Cargo Control Violations

In the run-up to the 2018 CVSA Roadcheck, it is part of our responsibility to customers to get them ready by way of cargo control supplies and education. This post is geared toward the education aspect. It covers the top 5 cargo control violations in America. You don’t want to be found guilty of any of them during the annual Roadcheck.

It has been estimated that up to 17 trucks are inspected every minute during the annual Roadcheck event. Keep in mind that the Roadcheck is conducted all across North America. Whether you haul flatbeds, dry goods vans, tankers or reefers, the chances of you being stopped and inspected during the first week of June is pretty high.

The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that you are fully compliant with cargo control rules. If you are not sure what those rules are, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a driver handbook that lays it all out. For our part, we offer you the top five cargo control violations based on 2017 statistics:

1. Failure to Prevent Shifting or Loss of Load

Loads must always be secured to prevent them from shifting, falling, leaking, blowing, or otherwise leaving the confines of the vehicles carrying them. This means different things for different truck drivers. For the flatbed driver, it means that nothing can be allowed to fall off the trailer. Furthermore, nothing on the trailer should be allowed to shift during transport.

The obvious way to prevent being found in violation is to properly contain you loads. If you are not using a bulkhead, get one. Otherwise you will need to use extra tie-downs to keep loads in place. You might also consider a side kit for loads that might be a bit more challenging to contain.

2. Failure to Secure Equipment

Not only does your cargo have to be controlled, so does any and all equipment you’re carrying on the truck. That means hand trucks, chains, hand tools, etc. Anything that could potentially fall off your trailer must be properly secured.

3. Worn or Damaged Tie-Downs

Federal law prohibits the use of tie-downs or other cargo control equipment that is damaged or sufficiently warm. And because normal wear is in the eyes of the beholder, law enforcement tends to err on the side of caution. Please make a point of replacing any worn or damaged tie-downs right away. Even after the Roadcheck is over, your truck could be taken out of service if an inspection reveals worn or damaged equipment.

4. Insufficient Tie-Downs

The law also stipulates just how many tie-downs are necessary for a given load. You can find all the numbers in the driver handbook mentioned earlier in this post. Suffice it to say that your truck will be taken out of service if the number of tie-downs deployed is deemed insufficient.

Know that you have to have the right number of tie-downs AND they have to have appropriate working load limits. Getting either one wrong could result in a violation.

5. Loose Tie-Downs

Lastly, law enforcement don’t like to see loose tie-downs. So whether you’re using chains, straps or a combination of both, everything needs to be tight and secure. Be sure to inspect your tie-downs before initial departure, then again within 50 miles of the start of your trip. Check them every time you stop after that.

Don’t be found in violation during this year’s Roadcheck event. Pay attention to cargo control and do what the law requires. Both you and law enforcement will be the happier for it.