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When Unsecured Cargo Becomes Deadly Debris

Written by Ankin Law Office

Flatbed trucking accidents often occur from improperly secured cargo that falls into oncoming traffic without warning.

Unsecured Cargo can be Deadly

When a truck’s cargo is not secured properly, an accident can occur from debris that’s thrown into the road. In an instant, the truck’s cargo creates a hazardous condition for oncoming traffic, nearby vehicles, and pedestrians. If the cargo is heavy or large, people in nearby cars can be injured or killed by flying debris.

In the United States, there are approximately 500,000 trucking accidents each year. A large percentage of these accidents involve flatbed trucks, trucks or tractor-trailers with a flat open bed used for hauling various materials and equipment. Many accidents involving flatbed trucks are directly related to the type of cargo hauled. If cargo is heavy or very large, loads may shift during travel, making the truck unstable by creating a high center of gravity. Flatbed trucks are commonly used to transport large, heavy items such as lumber and logs, industrial machinery, and construction equipment. Due to the size and weight of flatbed cargo, truck accidents lawyers often see severe injuries and deaths from unsecured cargo that falls into traffic.

Truckers who haul materials on flatbeds are required to make periodic stops to ensure cargo is properly secured. Under federal trucking regulations, truckers are required to use enough safety straps or chains to adequately secure the weight of the load. There are strict requirements on the number of tie-downs and attachment locations, so the load doesn’t shift during truck turns and sudden stops. The combined ratings of all straps or chains must equal at least 50 percent of the load’s total weight. For instance, a 40,000 weight load requires a total minimum tie-down of 20,000 pounds.

On flatbed trucks, all loads must be tagged with a visible working load limit that’s easily accessible by a safety inspector. The working load limit is usually printed, stamped, or embossed on strap tie-downs. If chains are used, there is a manufacturer’s mark cast into the chain every 12-inches. In recent years, trucking safety officials have stopped the use of tarp straps and rubber bungee cords for securing cargo because they carry no load ratings and don’t properly secure cargo from falling off the truck. Despite strict regulations, truck accident lawyers still see serious trucking accidents and injuries from unsecured cargo every year, especially around turns and on steep inclines.