Pull tight

New requirements address loose trailer accidents

Article May 16, 2003
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New requirements for cargo securement are discussed below,
and, in short, they indirectly apply to manufacturers and installers of truck
bodies. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Requirements apply to the motor carriers,
their agents and employees that operate commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in
interstate commerce. While the user is ultimately responsible for proper cargo
securement, they look to distributors and manufacturers to supply them with
vehicles capable of meeting these requirements.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
published a final rule, Development of a North American Standard for Protection
Against Shifting and Falling Cargo, on Sept. 27, 2002. The purpose of the final
rule ?is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting on or
within, or falling from, CMVs operating in interstate commerce, and to
harmonize to the greatest extent practicable U.S., Canadian, and Mexican cargo
securement regulations.?

As with the current requirements for cargo securement found
in Title 49 CFR Section 393.100, this new rule applies to ?trucks, truck
tractors, semi-trailers, full trailers, and pole trailers.? The new
requirements went into effect Dec. 26, 2002, but motor carriers have until Jan.
1, 2004, to ensure compliance.

Highlights of changes to the requirements for anchor points
follow.

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The current requirements including anchor points on truck
bodies are found in Section 393.102(d), Attachment to the Vehicle, stating
?the hook, bolt, weld, or other connector by which a tiedown assembly is
attached to a vehicle, and the mounting place and means of mounting the
connector, must be at least as strong as the tiedown assembly when that
connector is loaded in any direction in which the tiedown assembly may load it.?

Section 393.5 is amended to define ?anchor
points? as ?part of the structure, fitting or attachment on a
vehicle or article of cargo to which a tiedown is attached.?

The new requirements in Section 393.104(c), Vehicle
Structures and Anchor Points, state, ?Vehicle structures, floors, walls,
decks, tiedown anchor points, headerboards, bulkheads, stakes, posts and
associated mounting pockets used to contain or secure articles of cargo must be
strong enough to meet the performance criteria of Section 393.102, with no
damaged or weakened components that will adversely affect their performance for
cargo securement purposes, including reducing the working load limit, and must
not have any cracks or cuts.?

The new performance criteria for cargo securement devices
and systems are as follows: Section 393.102, ?(a) Performance
criteria--Cargo securement devices and systems must be capable of
withstanding the following three forces, applied separately: (1) 0.8 g
deceleration in the forward direction; (2) 0.5 g acceleration in the rearward
direction; and (3) 0.5 g acceleration in a lateral direction. (b) Performance
criteria for devices to prevent vertical movement of loads that are not
contained within the structure of the vehicle. Securement systems must provide
a downward force equivalent to at least 20% of the weight of the article of
cargo if the article is not fully contained within the structure of the
vehicle. If the article is fully contained within the structure of the vehicle,
it may be secured in accordance with Section 393.106 (b).?

For cargo fully contained within the structure of the
vehicle, Section 393.106 (b) General--?Cargo must be firmly
immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate
strength, dunnage or dunnage bags, shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of
these.?

The new rule ?does not include a requirement that
anchor points be rated and marked.? In the preamble to the final rule,
the FMCSA states that ?safety-conscious motor carriers and drivers could
achieve compliance with the rules being adopted, and make wise choices about
cargo securement devices, without the mandatory marking of anchor
points.?

Please note the final rule does not prohibit using current
securement methods. Users can use the same tiedown hardware, as long as it
meets the performance criteria.

About the author: 
Spata has worked in the automotive industry for 13 years. His tenure at Ford Motor Co. introduced him to truck engineering and the commercial truck industry. He is now a technical service manager with the National Truck Equipment Association, Farmington H
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