Under the new securement regulations, (bottom) it is no longer legal to have tie-downs on the outside of the rub rail.
The year-old cargo securement rule that has been enforced since Jan. 1 was developed primarily as a result of severe accidents caused by unstable loads.
Other triggers for the revision were, first, the higher forces on cargo generated by trucks with better brakes, tires and suspensions; and second, the desire to synchronize the Canadian, American and Mexican rules. The goal for the updated regulations is to avoid shifting loads, which can cause the driver to lose control and the truck and trailer to flip.
Considering that the new rule makes it easier to be put out of service, it’s even more important to understand it. In addition to weight and length criteria, there are more specific regs that involve routing of straps and chains, as well as regs that vary by commodity type.
One existing rule didn’t change Jan. 1: The sum of tie-downs’ ratings must equal half the weight of the cargo. Tie-downs are rated according to their “working load limit,” which is one third of their breaking strength.
To conform to the strength versus weight rule requires knowing the weight of the cargo and the rating of your tie-downs. The rating refers to not only the material they are made of, but also the weakest part of the assembly. You must determine the rating either by checking a marking the manufacturer has put on the tie-down or by referring to charts incorporated in the new regs. You can look up the rating in the charts based on what the tie-down is made of and its dimensions – for example, wire rope with a diameter of 5/16 inch is rated at 2,100 pounds. Get a calculator and add up the ratings of all the tie-downs you’ve installed. Doing the math will help you know you can pass roadside inspections.
For many commodities, the new regs give specifics as to how and where tie-downs may be routed. For example, when hauling steel coils with the eyes crosswise on the trailer, tie-downs must not be crossed so as to form an X when viewed from above. The regs tell the loader how many tie-downs are needed and which type of motion each must prohibit.
You can no longer nail down blocking because nails often loosen. Use a 4-inch-by-4-inch cradle instead. It must support the coil off the trailer floor in order to minimize the chance that it will roll.
Running your tie-downs over the side of the trailer now requires greater caution. Jim Calico, vice president of sales and marketing at Kinedyne Corp., cites the new rule: “All tie-downs and other components of a cargo securement system used to secure loads on a trailer equipped with rub rails must be located inboard of the rubrails, whenever practicable.” The reason is that rub rails sometimes rub other vehicles or walls, so a rope or cable on the outside of the rails can be damaged, leaving the cargo improperly secured. He believes the “whenever practicable” qualification will cause a lot of confusion.
Kinedyne makes a Kaptive Hook for fastening straps. It has only a small opening and hooks around an attaching pin running from the inside of the rub rail to the edge of the trailer floor. The strap can ride up and down quite a bit prior to tensioning, or if tension gets lost, without slipping off the pin.
Dick Hugg, president of Hugg Manufacturing and a small-fleet owner, developed two systems geared to meeting the new requirements. The first one solves the same problem as the Kaptive Hook, that of “securing the buckle end of securement straps by passing the buckle between the side rail of the trailer and the rub rail,” says company literature. Hooking this way keeps the hook from falling off if the strap gets slack in it, but it passes the strap outboard of the rub rail.
Hugg Manufacturing’s PortaAnchor “has been developed in direct response to the new securement regulations forbidding securement outside the rub rail,” the company says. “It offers an anchor point for both synthetic straps and chains and secures to the stake pockets. It provides a receptacle that the hook can pass under and then come up to hook in the same manner it would on a rub rail.” Gravity then keeps the hook hooked.
The PortaWinch “uses 4-inch straps and the same winch bar used on the standard underbody winches. This winch also attaches using the trailer’s stake pockets, which are rated securement points,” the company says. The newer version engages the stake pocket using a spring-loaded hook formed out of flat metal, guaranteeing that the hook will remain hooked.
Requirements by commodity type are the real meat of the new rule, says Bill Gouse, vice president of engineering at the American Trucking Associations. These highly detailed regs take precedence over the general rules whenever there is a conflict. Special requirements apply to each of these categories: