More from: working load limits

Roadside Cargo Inspections: What Do They Actually Check?

What would you say if we told you that the 2019 CVSA Roadcheck is now a mere seven months away? We know, it seems like this year’s Roadcheck was just conducted. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Anyway, contemplating the 2019 event got us thinking about what inspectors actually check during roadside inspections.

Being that we supply the trucking industry with all sorts of cargo control supplies, we thought it might be helpful to better understand roadside inspections. So we dug around and found an interesting video created by the Indiana State police.

The video was quite enlightening to say the least. While we understand that what the trooper demonstrated in this video is open to some interpretation by police officers and DOT inspectors, the general principles described here are pretty standard. Let’s talk about those general principles.

Trailer and Cargo

The trooper in the video used an open-deck trailer carrying a piece of heavy construction equipment for demonstration purposes. One of the first cargo control things he talked about is securing all four corners of any load that exceeds a certain weight limit. He rattled off that weight limit like it’s second nature. That’s because it is. Inspectors know exactly what federal law says about tie-downs and load weight.

Next, the discussion moved to working load limits. The trooper used the binders holding the load to the trailer at all four corners as an example. He explained how those binders are legal because they cover all four corners and because their working load limits are applicable to the load.

He also discussed working load limits in relation to the chains used to tie down the load. Interestingly enough, the trooper had a handy gauge he could place on one of the chain links to quickly determine its size and grade. And he also found a marking on the chain that told him the actual working load limit. He calculated the math and decided that the chains were appropriate.

One last thing we found extremely fascinating is that the trooper’s chain gauge had two sides to it. The first side has gauges for all standard chain sizes. The second side had gauges that were 20% smaller than standard. If an inspector can fit a smaller gauge over a section of chain, that indicates the chain is at least 20% worn. The chain can no longer be used. It must be taken out of service.

Other Things They Check

Roadside inspections place a lot of emphasis on cargo control. But inspectors check other things as well. For example, tire pressure and wear are both big things. If an inspector doubts the integrity of truck’s tires at all, he/she will measure depth tread and take a pressure reading.

Oversize loads have to be marked with flags on each corner and the appropriate signage on the back of the trailer. Inspectors are looking for both of those things. When a load exceeds the length of the trailer by a certain amount, the inspector will be looking for some sort of flag attached to the back of the load as a warning to drivers.

These are the basic things inspectors are looking for during roadside cargo control inspections. Obviously, inspectors do a complete check of a truck from front to rear, looking at everything from lights to safety reflectors. We hope you will take this information and combine it with everything else you know about roadside inspections in order to improve your own cargo control efforts. Do not be the next driver taken out of service.

 


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.