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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Securing Your Load Before You Go

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Have you ever been driving on the highway when something suddenly falls off the vehicle in front of you? Maybe you had to brake hard or swerve to avoid a collision. We’ve all seen it – a mattress, truck tire, spilled lumber or pallets, even large auto parts. You probably have heard about a truck driver who suddenly slammed on the brakes only for the load to shift in such a way that the truck jackknifed or tipped over onto the road, maybe even spewing the trucks contents. Unsecured loads are all too common, and so are serious and deadly accident as a result.

Every year unsecured loads are directly responsible for 25,000 car accidents nationwide, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Why? Despite regulations which specifically address how goods being hauled by interstate commercial vehicles are to be secured before an 18-wheeler hits the road, some trucking companies continue to cut corners on safety to increase their bottom line. But, trucking companies are not the only ones putting motorists in danger from unsecured loads. How often do you see a mattress atop a car roof, a vehicle so filled that the driver can’t even see out the back window, or a pick-up truck with items loosely moving about the truck bed? Trunks may not be properly tied down; cargo on the roof may not be secured. All of these actions can lead to devastating accidents and serious injuries.

Just as you would secure yourself or your child in a seat belt, it is equally important for all drivers to secure their loads. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you plan to travel. It doesn’t matter what you are hauling – yard debris, shrubbery, household belongings, luggage, or recreational vehicles as summer draws near, here are a few tips to make sure you secure your load before you go.

Tie it down. Use appropriate tie-downs, straps and other methods of securing cargo. Large and heavy items should be secured with straps, ropes or bungee cords. Make sure the restraints are in good condition and aren’t frayed, damaged or cut.

Keep things balanced. Make sure cargo is balanced before tying it down. As the load gets bigger, evenly distribute the weight to keep items from sliding.

Consider the center of gravity. It makes packing easier if you put bigger stuff in first and then pack smaller items around. This also helps to keep the center of gravity low and reduces the effect of weight on vehicle handling. Load heavy items tight against the back of the rear seat for better weight distribution and handling.

Cover it up. Loose lighter items, such as leaves, tree clippings, and clothing should be covered with netting or a tarp to keep them from blowing away. Remember to properly secure the tarp, as well.

Lighter goes lower. Put lighter items at the bottom of the load to keep them from blowing out.

Don’t overload. Keep material level with the truck bed or trailer unless tied. For vehicles, keep a clear view to the rear by not packing above the line of the seat backs. Anything packed higher than this is at risk of flying forwards in a crash anyway.

Double-check the load before you go. Double-check the load to make sure it is secure on all sides and on the top. Ask yourself: Would I feel safe following behind this vehicle?

Check tire pressure. Adjust tire pressures to suit the heavier load.

Using a roof rack. Roof-racks are a great way to carry larger, yet lighter bulky items like bedding. Remember to securely attach all items.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.