Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Taking no chances with flatbed coil securement

| January 28, 2014

What kind of truck accident has seriously damaged interstate highway around downtown Birmingham, Ala., about 30 times since 1987? Flatbeds dropping steel loads, usually coils, whether by rollover, jackknife, securement failure or other problem.

Most of these have happened at the intersection of I-20/59 and I-65, known as Malfunction Junction. The repair cost averages $200,000 to $300,000 per incident, according to bhamwiki.com, an online encyclopedia.

An hour away in Overdrive’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., WTI Transport does a good job of teaching its drivers coil securement to ensure they don’t join the legacy of Malfunction Junction mishaps. I recently accompanied Overdrive Equipment Editor Jack Roberts to WTI, where Safety Instructor Gene Sims walked us through the conservative coil securement methods he teaches.

Here are photo highlights, as well as a video of Sims explaining proper chain and strap application for a coil mounted in a “shotgun” position, where the hole runs parallel to the trailer.



  • Daniel Kupke

    OK I’ve heard about this over n over but never any questions about that stretch of highway haveing some kind of a problem that causes this ?? Has any-one ever thought of the idea that maybe there is some-thing in the layout or construction of that stretch of highway causeing this ?? If these incidents are allways happening in this mal-function junction area then it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there is some-thing different going on there with the road ??

  • mousekiller

    The crown of the road has to be slightly slopped towards the edge to aid in water run off and to assist in taking the curves to prevent rollovers. Many times all over the country the architects screw up. The states will not admit that the road is poorley designed. This poor design leads to accidents that are for the most part preventable. How ever to rebuild the road is not cost effective. so they have to come up with new laws to cover their refusal or inability of demanding the road builder do it over. I the curve is not crowned properly it has a tendency due to enertia to throw the vehicle and acts like it pulling it off the road. Coils sit on the trailer nothing llike lumber or steel., The bands holding it together can and do break allowing the coil to change shape and come loose. The biggest reason I have found is that drivers get lazy and do not do the job of securing the coils properly. The biggest reason? “I have done it this way for lots of years and never had a problem.” That is the reason for many loose coils . One or more chains could possibly have prevented it.

  • Daniel Kupke

    Kind of like the same thing of us paying all this fuel tax all over the country as well as the HVUT n then their un-maintained road that we have paid so much $$ for to use beats our equipment to death n then they heard all of us into the weigh station to fine us for things being broken n not working that their road caused to our equipment in the first place ??

  • mousekiller

    Good analogy, Dan. Unfortunately the biggest problem in trucking is the drivers will not stand together for any reason. Whine over coffee but can not lift a finger to write their legislators to try to fix it..

  • Hellbent706

    I’ve seen drivers in covered wagons leave the yard with no chains on skidded coils and try to make it 50 miles because there’s no weigh station. Idiots screw up the whole industry. It’s sad because all drivers are unfortunately considered guilty until proven innocent. The 1/4 inch chain is a big part of the problem. O/O use them because they’re lighter and cheaper but they’re also weaker and prone to failure. Use 3/8 chains. The one-more-chain theory sounds good but it’s an unknown number. It could be 7 chains per coil or a thousand. At some point it becomes ridiculous as your load securement equipment is not exempt from your legal weight limit and starts to reduce your hauling capacity. Now you have to refuse the load because you can only haul 48k and your 2000 pounds of chains will put you over the limit at 50k. Initially it’s not the chains that break (unless it’s those weak 1/4/ chains). It is the impact of the role over and friction that breaks most chains. Even if the chains don’t break it’s still the drivers fault because he rolled the truck in a curve going too fast or the person that ran him off the road is long gone and the driver didn’t have video so he can’t prove that he was the victim. What’s missing is the real reason for Alabama Coil law. Each accident cost the city $300,000 is a lie!!These accidents cost the city nothing!! They’re covered by the carriers own million dollar liability insurance. The law was simply designed to generate additional revenue under the disguise of saftey.

  • Daniel Kupke

    Yes mousekiller it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out ?? We all pay all these taxes of trucking and transportation for the privilege of being allowed to “”serve”" the public and carry “”everything”" to the stores for them and then in doing that we are constantly looked down upon for being that drug infested sleezy trucker that needs more regulation ect ect ?? I don’t know how long u have been around but years ago we all actually got together back in the 80′s I think it was when they had started repealing that 55 mph limit n Indiana was dragging it’s feet ?? We all stopped buying fuel or food or delivering much of anything to Indiana !! It only took like 4 weeks n they (the state) were getting so much slack from all the bussiness’s that they passed it pronto ?? The same thing could be done so easily these days ?? Like Cal for example !! Letters to the State REP’S do little if any good in my book but u hit them in the $$ pocket n they sit up like a dog that wants that bone back !!! Cal is well on the way to screwing it’s self but that doesn’t mean that we can’t help it along ?? When that produce season comes along simply stay out’a there n when u do haft to go (for those that can ??) don’t buy any-thing that u can do without !! Stock up the fridge in Arz or NV n roll in n unload n load back up (if u haft to) or better yet head to Vegas or Phoenix n load out of there !!

  • mousekiller

    Dan, I have been driving trucks for 45+ years and am currently an O/O. I am hoping to retire in 2 12 years but this stupid govt intervention into private business is going to be the tipping point. .HOWEVER My solution to CAL BS is for the reefer drivers to back to the chilling houses dock with out opening the doors.Refuse to load. “at least 85 % of produce in this counytry is hauled by O/O’s not big companies.” Many kinds of crops have a very few short hours to get harvested from field to chilling house or spoilage occurs. If the chilling house is not empty the crops get plowed under.. That equates to millions of dollars and that will get the truck farmers to Sacramento.to get the regulations lifted especially the CARB fiasco, altered or removed . When the ones that elected these clowns have to reach into their own pockets to the tune of millions of dollars good things can happen … When backed to the dock explain to these guys why you are not going to load. I bet a dollar to a donut hole that it will get back to those in Sacramento.

  • mousekiller

    When i did flat bed I carried 15 chains and the same number of binders. Of the 15 binders were 5 ratchet binders. I carried 5 1/2 in chains . A Carry over from heavy haul days.. the one factor that seems to escape nearly every one is it is not just the lack of securement or improper securement that causes the coil to leave the trailer under any kind of conditions. That is the flex of the trailer. Coil is loaded while trailer is stationary. Good and tight. but the flexing of the trailer going down the road and the small bits of dirt and rocks under the coil racks begins to breakup ..This fraction of an inch is enough to begin the chain of events. or not putting a 1/2 twist in the chain. The flexing of the coils are a part of this chain of events.. .The flex is the beginning of the nightmare of damage or loss of coil, . Even tho the chain and binder have a WLL the flexing can surpass that WLL and in doing so over a period of years or even months it is going to break. The added stress of hard braking or cornering is the final test and failed. Even the condition of the trailer such as age and stress and treatment and of course maintenance it has undergone in the past and the type and age of the flooring all have something to do with it. It is not 100% the driver, some of the time. It is a combination of things and some we cannot control ….

  • Daniel Kupke

    My hats off to ya Mr Truck Driver !! I’m 56 n I’ve been in this bussiness since 79 running cross country .. I’ve done everything except a reefer n allways been a OO I spent the first 6 years pulling a dry box n that killed any desire to do a reefer !! I had just a few deliverys back then to food warehouse type places with that dry box n that did it !! Yes I agree with u 100% if we could get every-one to just leave out of Cal empty it would do it !!

  • Hellbent706

    I agree with you Mousekiller but can you imagine the DOT trying to figure out after the accident if it was caused by gremlins or too much flex or if you had your chain 1/2 twisted? Only in Hollywood. In real life that’s too much work!!! It’s much cheaper and easier to just consider us guilty until proven innocent and close the case. We know its not 100% the driver but in the eyes of the DOT and FMCSA by default it’s ALWAYS the drivers fault until he can prove otherwise. Consider this…What do you think is going to happen if the DOT investigation can’t prove the cause of the accident and the driver swears he not at fault? They will come up with a theory of what most likely is “driver error” The driver can’t prove that there is a ghost in the machine and the DOT has to look like they can make safety improvements based on the results of the investigation.

    On another topic…I think the FMCSA should make one more regulation for O/O that’s guaranteed to improve maintenance…It should be illegal for a broker, shipper, carrier or individual to post, solicit or accept a load that has a rate to mile ratio of less than $3 a mile and any broker in violation of that rule should be heavily fined and/or shut down. I believe that one single regulation would solve 80% of the maintenance issues in this industry because we get paid so weak that we tend to try to get too much out of every dollar and too much out of the equipment before replacing it just to survive. What do you think of this Idea?

  • mousekiller

    I agree it is so much easier to just blame the truck driver. If one is within a mile of the accident blame will try to be placed on to the truck driver. Another reason I advocate dash cams. The reasons do not escape me either. Over the last 30 or so years the high caliber Knights of the road drivers had dwindled down to nearly all warm butts and steering wheel holder status due to career change or retirement. .It is obvious. Technology has and is taking the personal touch and individual involvement out of the truck. It is becoming impersonal. Even the truck manufacturers have conceded to this decline.. If it is a job the computer can do, it is in the truck now. Automatic transmissions for those that cannot coordinate clutch and accelerator. EOBR’s ,in cab cameras to view the driver along with traffic. Collision avoidance sensors for those that dont pay attention to their surroundings or use their mirrors properly… Automatic braking .? How many accidents are caused by that automatic braking system and the driver accused of falling asleep at the wheel or being distracted especially on wet or icy roads. ? If we still had the professional knights of the road status now that we once had , a lot of this BS would not be happening today. Take a look around you at the truck stops and rest areas. Drivers???? Hard to believe some are. Far too many dont know what slow is when pulling into the fuel island. Or driving around the lot looking for a parking space at 40 MPH. In my opinion it is not all the drivers fault they are like that. Unfortunatly they drive their truck like they do their cars from abrupt lane changes, English becoming a second language in trucking, no or insufficient use of turn signals tailgating ,the list goes on.. HOWEVER, .I lay a lot of the blame on carriers too that have reduced their dress codes and hiring standards to 0. Lower standards means a lower class, less skilled of driver that they don’t have to pay much to get in the seat. . This is common knowledge by nearly every one associated with trucking. The LEO’s know it and make their job of placing blame on a truck driver second nature. Sloppy driver equates to sloppy driving. On the surface it fits but it is not entirely true. It is a number of things including poor training at the schools turning out less than qualified drivers. Poorly informed driver about the real world of trucking. It comes full circle.. A simple test to see if the driver next to you is really qualified ?. Does that driver use the window in the passenger door as a trash gauge or for the reason it was there in the first place.? Does that driver pull up one more time to get straight in that parking spot or just sit on the lines being inconsiderate.? Is his dash covered in trash and other items? It all comes together . From training to qualifications to equipment care to personal pride and hygiene. If these don’t fit together we, the industry have problems.===============

  • localnet

    Thank YOU! I have hauled coils, always used 3/8 chains, and always threw an extra, just in case… But, it was MY tractor and Conestoga… It ain’t f’n rocket science.