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September 15th, 2015 :

The Dangers of Unsecured Cargo

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The Dangers of Unsecured Cargo

When driving behind massive and fully loaded trucks on the highway, I cannot help but consider the idea of cargo coming loose from the trucks and crashing into my car. I always dismiss this idea, thinking I have an overactive imagination, but recently a story hit the news concerning a crash in College Station caused by a loose tire. This reminded me of the very real danger that unsecured cargo and materials in transit present. In this instance, a loose tire flew off of an 18-wheeler, struck a pickup truck, hit the road, and penetrated the windshield of a car. Fortunately, the driver of the pickup was uninjured. However, the woman driving the car was immediately taken to the hospital to be treated for several injuries. Over fifty thousand of these incidents occur each and every year, but unfortunately, the loose cargo is not always just a tire. More often than not these accidents result in serious injuries or death. The number of deaths caused each year by these events is a staggering 440 people, accompanied by around 10,000 injuries.

Common Causes of Incorrectly Secured Cargo

Having nearly impossible to meet deadlines, truck drivers tend to rush when preparing their load for transit. The mandatory rules and regulations involving stacking, balancing, loading, and tying down freight are often overlooked in this process.

Some of the most common causes of incorrectly secured cargo accidents include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Cargo falling off of a truck
  • Improper tie-downs
  • Negligence when checking the security of the load at necessary intervals
  • Poor balance of a load
  • Unstable stacking of a load

Some of the most common items that fall from trucks include:

  • Large boulders
  • Concrete pipes
  • Lumber
  • Paper rolls
  • Intermodal containers
  • Tires
  • Metal coils

In the state of Texas, it is a misdemeanor for drivers to fail to secure their load. See Transportation Code section 725.001 summary below:

TRANSPORTING CARGO AND MATERIALS In order to prevent cargo or loose materials from falling or spilling from a vehicle car, truck, trailer, etc. onto the roadway and possibly causing accidents or damage to the roads, state law requires that drivers comply with certain requirements. State law mandates that no person shall load or transport any loose material on or over the public highways, such as dirt, sand, gravel, wood chips, or other material (except agricultural products in their natural state), that is capable of blowing or spilling from a vehicle unless: (1) the bed carrying the load must be completely enclosed on both sides and on the front and on the rear by a tailgate, board or panel, and all must be so constructed as to prevent the escape of any part of the load by blowing or spilling; and (2) the top of the load must be covered with a canvas, tarpaulin, or other covering firmly secured to the front and back to prevent the escape of the load because of blowing or spilling. This requirement does not apply to any load-carrying compartment that completely encloses the load or to the transporting of any load of loose materials that are not blowing or spilling over the top of the load-carrying compartment.

Sadly, the penalty for violating the statute is a maximum fine of $500. In my opinion, that is not much of an incentive for drivers to take the extra time necessary to protect the lives of other drivers.

Read more about the College Station accident here:

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