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. Staff there 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. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators also publishes an illustrated guide called the Driver's Handbook on Load Security.
At this point you might be tempted to think that this is an issue for drivers of pickup trucks and large commercial vehicles. After all, the things that you carry in your car or van are all contained, aren't they?
Post Crash: Driver covered in paint from unsecured containers
In a crash, or even during sudden heavy braking, anything inside your vehicle that is not tied down in some manner can become a hazard as it follows Newton's laws of motion. Seatbacks are not meant to restrain cargo and it is unwise for you to assume that they do.
A common example of dangerous external cargo is a pickup load full of firewood. How strong do you think the rear glass in the cab is?
What happens if you are caught with an unsecured load? The officer's first step will be a verbal or written order to immediately park your vehicle until the load is properly secured.
That may be followed up with a violation ticket as well. Fines begin at $173 for drivers of cars and motorcycles. Drivers of pickup trucks, vans intended for delivery, business vehicles and other commercial vehicles are liable to $288 and carriers who permit load security violations pay $460.
Even if the load is contained by the vehicle, it should be restrained in some say -- especially if the load consists of many items of various size and shape.
Just watch a group of professional movers pack a truck and you'll see what I mean.
Anyone who has tried to unload a U-Haul when the load has shifted will understand...
I learned to drive on a 1 ton pick-up so learning how to secure a load was part of learning to drive. And if you have ever driven delivery knowing how to secure your load inside your vehicle is a must. Breakage is something you do not want.
What bothers me more than a pick-up with a load of wood is hatchbacks, SUV's, mini vans and station wagons. Next time you are buying groceries watch how many people throw their bags in the back of one of these vehicles, load the kids into the back seat and drive off. At least in a pick-up that block of wood has to hit the back window and with many pick-ups having a headache rack it has to break through that first. In one of the above mentioned vehicles, and the picture in the article, everything is neatly contained within the passenger compartment. Ever given a thought of what a head would look like being hit with a can of beans?
Using the paint in the article above the chances of that paint being sprayed about the passenger compartment of a pick-up is close to nil. In a vehicle that has the passenger and cargo compartment combined that is what you get.
Now watch the ads for the above mentioned vehicles they all advertise how much cargo room they have yet none supply a buffer between the varying lengths of cargo area. If it was licenced as a commercial vehicle carrying crew and equipment it would require a bulkhead between cargo and passengers.