New Standards Set for Containing, Tying Down Cargo

Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a requirement that all interstate commercial motor vehicles (CMV) comply with a new single set of performance standards. Meeting these standards will help to ensure that all CMV loads are properly secured and will reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting or falling from trucks.

The final rule is effective December 26, 2002 and can be viewed at http://dms.do.gov/ by searching for docket number 2289. Motor carriers have until January 1, 2004, to comply with the new requirements. Training materials for motor carriers and enforcement officials are being developed and will be available from the FMCSA before the compliance deadline for the final rule.

This rule affects many types of carriers, including those for transporting crushed and flattened vehicles.

From the final revision of the Federal Register document, docket number FSMSA-97-2289, posted September 27, 2002:

"What are the rules for securing flattened or crushed vehicles?"

Prohibition on the use of synthetic webbing. The use of synthetic webbing to secure flattened or crushed vehicles is prohibited.

Securement of flattened or crushed vehicles. Flattened or crushed vehicles must be transported on vehicles which have:

(1) Containment walls or comparable means on four sides which extend to the full height of the load and which block against movement of the cargo in the forward, rearward and lateral directions; or

(2) (i) Containment walls or comparable means on three sides which extend to the full height of the load and which block against movement of the cargo in the forward, rearward and lateral directions, and (ii) A minimum of two tiedowns are required per vehicle stack; or

(3) (i) Containment walls on two sides which extend to the full height of the load and which block against movement of the cargo in the forward, rearward and lateral directions, and (ii) A minimum of three tiedowns are required per vehicle stack; or

(4) A minimum of four tiedowns per vehicle stack.

(5) In addition to paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) the following rules must be satisfied:

(i) Vehicles used to transport flattened or crushed vehicles must be equipped with a means to prevent loose parts from fall from all four sides of the vehicle, which extends to the full height of the cargo.

(ii) The means used to contain loose parts may consist of structural walls, sides or sideboards, or suitable covering material, alone or in combinations.

(iii) The use of synthetic material for containment of loose parts is permitted.

The final rule clarifies how to determine the working load limit of cargo securement systems and the way carriers should use these tiedown devices to secure cargo so it does not leak, spill, blow, or fall from a CMV.

The rule establishes new performance standards that apply to cargo securement systems used in transporting general freight and loads that require specialized or unique methods. It also establishes commodity-specific secure-ment standards for the transportation of logs, dressed lumber, metal coils, paper rolls, intermodal containers; cars, light trucks and vans; heavy vehicles, equipment and machinery; flattened or crushed cars; roll-on/roll-off containers; and large boulders. In the process of developing these standards, participants in the public meetings identified these commodities as being the most difficult to secure.

This final rule sets new cargo securement standards based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. It reflects the results of a multi-year, comprehensive research program to evaluate current U.S. and Canadian cargo securement regulations; the motor carrier industry's best practices; and recommendations presented during a series of public meetings involving U.S. and Canadian industry experts, federal, state and provincial enforcement officials, and other interested parties.

Canada and Mexico also are considering adopting provisions of the North American model regulations. This would enable the three neighboring countries to have compatible cargo securement regulations for heavy trucks.