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Securing the Cargo

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CH /V PURPOSE: This exercise will help personalize the information in the Trucking Handbook and give you practice in applying the chapter's information. In it, you will be finding out your own state's tie-down regulations and using them to figure out how to best tie down a sample load.

DO: Chapter Twenty of the Trucking Handbook gives you general guidelines and DOT regulations for securing cargo. But did you know that many states also have their own tie-down regulations? Many truckers aren't aware of them. This leads to a lot of traffic citations because patrol officers frequently cite drivers for violations of these tie-down regulations. State tie-down regulations may be more stringent than those given in the MCSR, so when you are traveling through a state you need to be sure that your load is properly secured in the eyes of both the state and the federal governments.

Here's what we want you to do in this exercise. Write to your State Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Safety, Department of Transportation, Driver's License Department, or whatever department in your state government handles truck road safety. (In some cases, a telephone call might do the trick. If so, you can save yourself the trouble of writing the letter.) In your letter, request a copy of the state's truck tie down regulations. When you receive the regulations, read them. Ask your instructor to clarify sections that don't make sense to you. (There may be some.) Then, answer the following questions.


  1. What is the name of the department that you had to contact for the regulations and what is their address?

  2. Did the department charge you for a copy of the regs?

  3. Did the regulations hold any surprises for you? In other words, were there any guidelines that you didn't expect to find? If so, what were they?

  4. Compare your state's guidelines with those of the federal government, given in Section 393.100 of the MCSR. What differences do you find?

  5. Which government agency has stronger guidelines? Your home state or the federal government? Give an example of a guideline in one that is stronger than a similar guideline in the other.

  6. Which government guidelines should a truck driver follow when she or he carries a load through your state? Why?

  7. Now think for a moment. What does a trucker have to do if she or he is going to carry a load through five different states? What does the driver need to know before securing the cargo?

  8. Look at the following load. Using a blue or black pen draw in a legal tie-down following the DOT (federal) regulations. Mark the illustration with any notes you need, such as size of chocks used, strength of binders, type of dunnage, or whatever tie-down materials you would use. If your state would require a different tie-down, show the differences using a red pen.

  9. Using your own state's tie-down requirements, draw onto the following diagram of a load a legal tie-down assembly. Assume that the coil weighs under 5,000 lbs. If your state allows a choice of tie-downs (such as either binders or blocking) choose the one you really feel is safest, not the one that's easiest to draw. Be sure to describe the type of tie-down materials you use. (For example, don't just say lumber if you use wood, say 2x4s, or whatever is appropriate.)
DO: Phone your local Department of Motor Vehicles, State Police Office, State Highway Patrol, Department of Public Safety, Department of Transportation or whatever agency is concerned with road accidents in your state.
  1. Find out what accidents must be reported in your state when only intrastate vehicles are involved and find out how to report such accidents. (These regulations are actually important regardless of whether you drive intrastate or interstate. If you drive interstate, you are subject to both federal and state rules.) Put the regulations regarding which accidents to report and how to report them in the space below:

  2. Ask the office to send you a copy of the appropriate accident report for the type of vehicle you are driving or are planning to drive once you have a job. (Some states use the same form for all vehicles from cars to commercial rigs.)

  3. Some states require two reports, one to the Motor Vehicles Dept, or State Police and a second to the Public Utilities Commission (or a similar agency). The second report is usually required when someone died as a result of the accident. Ask if this is true in your state. If it is, put the name of the agency to whom you send the second report in the space below:

  4. When you receive your state's accident reporting form, do your best to fill it out on a sample accident. Your instructor may wish you to use one of the accidents described in STUDY PROJECT #1 or may give you a different sample accident to use. Fill out the form according to your state's own guidelines.
INSTRUCTIONAL PURPOSE EXERCISE: In this exercise, you will learn about four different kinds of insurance that you may need to carry as a driver. You will complete the exercise by filling in an actual insurance application.

CONTENT: Truck drivers need to know about four kinds of insurance: public liability and property damage (PL & PD), collision, bobtail, and cargo. Most truckers need coverage for all four kinds of insurance, so we will briefly explain the reason for each.

If you are a company (salaried) driver, your employer will supply all four kinds of insurance for you. However, if you are an owner-operator leased on with a trucking company, policies vary. Generally speaking, as owner of the vehicle, you are responsible for supplying your own insurance (all four kinds), but sometimes the trucking company will supply one or more of the kinds of insurance. There is no set rule. The important thing is to find out right at the beginning of the leasing period who is responsible for each kind of insurance. You don't want to find out after you have had an accident that you are uninsured!
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