Gravity is Not Load Security
Three incidents this week prompt me to remind everyone about load security. Two boats have taken unexpected cruises along the pavement and a falling ladder caused a minor injury collision when the driver following along behind attempted to avoid the sudden obstacle in front of her. All of these incidents were cases of improper load security.
It seems that many people think that gravity will hold everything onto the vehicle and that they will be able to drive to their destination without worry. These drivers are a source of endless amusement to the staff at one large local business. They told me about a customer who brushed off their suggestion of tie downs and lost his new fridge out of the back of his pickup before he was out of sight of the loading dock. Like the other incidents, this was an expensive lesson.
In general, any load that is not contained by the vehicle carrying it must be secured to the vehicle in some manner. This can mean rope, cable or straps for larger objects or a tarp for items like mulch, sand or gravel. The tie downs must be of sufficient strength to restrain the load and in the case of long objects, a minimum number of tie downs is required. In addition to tie downs, dunnage may be required. Dunnage could take the form of plastic wrap or lumber to help the tie downs secure a stack of smaller items.
A good reference for anyone wanting to know how to secure loads properly is "Project Load Security," a booklet available free at any weigh scale or for download from the Solicitor General's web site.
What happens if you are caught with an unsecured load? The first step is an order removing the vehicle from the highway until the load is properly secured. That may be followed up with a violation ticket as well.