Any driver training will always emphasize the importance of securing loads properly, and that is simply because unsecured loads do not just cause problems for the driver, but they can cause accidents, often big ones. In fact, it’s a big problem on the roads in America, an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study carried out in 2016 found that debris on the road was involved with more than 200,000 accidents. Just to underline the seriousness of that, of those 200,000 plus accidents, there were 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.
Of course, not every one of those incidents of debris was caused by an unsecured load, the data suggests around two thirds involve debris falling from vehicles, but that still means over 140,000 accidents as a result of poor loading. If you were wondering how having an unsecured load causes an accident, road debris, as parts of the load fall off, is one of the main causes.
Road debris from an unsecured load can cause accidents in a couple of ways, drivers swerving to avoid hitting the debris and high-speed collisions directly with the debris, especially common on interstate highways. It is for this reason that all 50 states have laws against road debris and unsecured loads, with penalties ranging from a fine right through to jail time.
So, with consequences including accidents and legal issues, getting a load secured correctly every time is in everyone’s interest, but what is the best way to do it?
The first thing to consider is the load itself, many problems stem from overloading, trying to carry too much for the vehicle, commercial drivers should always know better. In this case, deliberately overloading could even invalidate your insurance.
How the load itself is secured should be the main focus when loading, and here there are a couple of things to remember. The first is that loads are tied directly to the vehicle structure, but the second is where many people often get into trouble. That is, what you use to tie a load down.
It should go without saying that a load should be tied down with proper straps, netting or suitably think rope, but it is the condition of those that is often the problem. Check your straps, netting and so on every time you load and unload, and immediately replace any item that is showing signs of wear. Making do with frayed or worn straps, netting or ropes can often lead to problems, and as we have seen, with devastating results.
Properly securing loads is essential for your own safety and that of those road users around you, don’t overload and always check your tie downs are in good condition for safety out on the road.