Jan. 1: FMCSA requires truckers to meet new set of standards for tying down cargo

| Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Effective Jan. 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all interstate commercial motor vehicles to comply with a new single set of performance standards for securing cargo.

"The new rule clarifies how to determine the working load limit of cargo securement systems and the way carriers should use these tie-down devices to secure cargo so it does not leak, spill, blow or fall from a CMV," says Rick Craig, OOIDA's director of regulatory affairs. "The changes are extensive and will affect all truckers."

Craig says the rules establish general performance criteria for securing all cargo except in 11 areas that require specialized or unique methods. The commodity-specific securement standards are 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.

New cargo securement standards are based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations. The development of the standards are the results of a multiyear, 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. 

"Achieving compatibility in cargo securement standards for the U.S., Canada and Mexico hasn't been easy," says Craig. "Canada has already adopted the provisions of the North American model regulations. Mexico has not, but is expected to."

The final rule was effective more than a year ago, but motor carriers were allowed until Jan. 1, 2004, to comply. Training materials for motor carriers and enforcement officials are available from the FMCSA.

In anticipation of the extensive new rules, OOIDA is working on a load securement training videotape.

"The OOIDA tape is for all truckers, but specifically for owner-operators," says the OOIDA Foundation's Tom Weakley. "It should be available in March."

A copy of the rules can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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