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How to Ensure Your Fleet Passes Cargo Securement Tests


Failure to properly secure cargo/loads can result in hefty fines. Worse yet, improper securement can cause serious accidents and injuries. It can even lead to fatalities. Your drivers must know how to pass every cargo securement test to avoid tragic accidents and violations.

What Does Cargo Securement Involve?

Cargo securement (also known as load securement) involves ensuring that items transported by a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle will securely stay on the vehicle until they’re ready to be removed.

Cargo/load securement is covered in detail ​​in parts 392 and 393 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSR mandates that drivers must:

  • properly secure their cargo using tie-downs
  • perform pre-trip inspections and en-route inspections to ensure that the cargo is properly secured
  • follow proper working load procedures/regulations
  • comply with cargo securement tests and load securement tests while in transit

Failure to follow these cargo securement regulations (and any of the related regulations from the FMCSR) puts the motoring public at serious risk and can lead to large fines.

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Who is Responsible for Cargo Securement?

There are several people responsible for ensuring proper cargo securement. First and foremost are drivers.

Commercial drivers are responsible for properly securing cargo and performing securement inspections. If a driver is found to be in violation of FMCSR cargo securement regulations, that driver will face fines and penalties.

However, it’s not just drivers who are responsible for cargo securement. Fleet managers, owners, and the entire company can be held responsible for improper cargo securement.

Like any other concern related to driver safety and compliance, it doesn’t just fall on your drivers. Executives, managers, and frontline leaders all need to be responsible for concerns such as cargo and load securement.

How to Pass Cargo Securement Tests

The FMCSA’s rule on cargo securement states that “cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tie-downs or a combination of these.”

These rules and regulations are enforced via load securement tests/cargo securement tests. If you want to avoid subsequent fines and issues with delivering loads, you and your drivers must know how to pass these tests.

Passing a cargo securement test comes down to three things:

  • Proper vehicle inspections
  • Understanding tie-downs and working load limits
  • Effective cargo securement procedures and training

Proper Vehicle Inspections

Your drivers must perform vehicle inspections to check that their cargo is properly secured at the following times:

  1. Before starting their trip
  2. 50 miles into the trip
  3. Every 3 hours or 150 miles (whichever comes first)

When your drivers follow these steps, not only are they complying with regulations, but they’re doing their part to protect themselves and others from serious accidents related to improperly secured cargo.

Tie-Downs And Working Load Limits

A tie-down strap is a fastener used to secure cargo or loads during transit. They are the backbone of proper cargo securement.

Here’s what the FMCSA has to say about tie-downs:

Regulations require each tie-down to be attached and secured in a manner that prevents it from becoming loose, unfastening, opening or releasing while the vehicle is in transit. All tie-downs and other components of a cargo securement system used to secure loads on a trailer equipped with rub rails must be located inboard of the rub rails whenever practicable. Also, edge protection must be used whenever a tie-down would be subject to abrasion or cutting at the point where it touches an article of cargo. The edge protection must resist abrasion, cutting, and crushing.

Depending on the type of cargo and the weight of the load, your company may be required to use securement devices beyond tie-downs. You can learn more about other securement devices here.

Beyond the basics, your drivers and managers must also follow working load limits. 

Every tie-down has a “working load limit” (marked as WLL). A working load limit is a tie-down’s maximum load that it is able to hold in place. The aggregate working load limit must secure at least 50% of the weight of the cargo.

For more information on tie-downs and working load limits, follow this link

Cargo Securement Procedures And Training

If you want your drivers to pass their next cargo securement test, you can’t just leave it up to them to figure out. You need proper cargo securement procedures in place at your company.

You need a comprehensive procedure that covers:

  • The specific requirements for various types of cargo you haul
  • Different procedures based on vehicle type and cargo type
  • Steps to avoid oversized/overweight cargo loads
  • Performing pre-trip inspections
  • Internal audits/internal cargo securement tests

With a procedure in place, you must train your drivers on how to follow this procedure. An online defensive driving program like A-Fleet will educate your drivers on the basics of cargo securement. Then, take it a step further and train your drivers on the specifics of your company’s cargo securement procedures.

A proper training session with a driver follows this model:

  • Lead with why a driver should care. Explain the benefits of proper cargo securement to them, why it matters, and why it is so important.
  • Demonstrate proper procedures. A manager or senior driver should show a new driver how to properly secure cargo
  • Let the trainee try. After the procedure is demonstrated to the new driver, he or she should try it themselves. The manager or senior driver should supervisor and offer guidance and correct mistakes.
  • Practice, practice, practice. New drivers should practice cargo securement until they get it right without any help.

Pass Every Cargo Securement Test

Without properly secured cargo, your company faces the risk of fines, upset customers, and serious accidents. Any of this can be devastating for your company.

Reduce your cost of loss and increase your efficiency by ensuring your drivers pass every cargo securement test.

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