Photo via fourbyfourblazer/Flickr.

Photo via fourbyfourblazer/Flickr.

This year’s International Roadcheck — a 72-hour enforcement blitz — is scheduled June 6 to 8, 2017.

If last year’s event is any indication, motor carriers and their drivers can expect to see almost 63,000 inspections over the course of these three days, or about 15 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspections on average every minute. In Roadcheck 2016, about two-thirds of the inspections were Level 1, a comprehensive, 37-step driver-and-vehicle inspection.

Each year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sponsors the event, which offers enforcement a glimpse into motor carrier compliance. The exposure also provides an opportunity to emphasize and distribute educational materials on a specific area of compliance. The emphasis for Roadcheck 2017 is cargo securement.

Cargo securement violations discovered during roadside inspections will affect a motor carrier’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) score. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses BASIC scores to target companies for interventions using the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

Are Your Drivers Ready?

Roadcheck does not change how your drivers comply with the safety regulations when out on the road. It is a huge sampling to survey roadside compliance.

In relation to cargo securement, anyone operating regulated vehicles should already be familiar with the basics. If this is an area of weakness for a driver, it will more than likely be exposed during the heightened enforcement.

As a motor carrier qualifies a commercial driver, it is charged with making sure he or she knows how to properly secure cargo. According to Section 391.13, Responsibilities of drivers, this may be accomplished by reason of experience, training, or both.

In addition, when assigning a driver to a CMV, the company must make sure he or she is familiar with methods and procedures for securing cargo for that specific vehicle. A company cannot allow a driver to operate a CMV unless it is sure that this requirement (qualification) is met. If the company allows someone without adequate understanding of the cargo securement rules to operate its CMV, it is a violation.

Cargo Securement Training

As noted above, a motor carrier may use training as a means of satisfying Section 391.13. But, you will not find cargo securement training specifically mentioned in the safety regulations. Instead, it is safety management control.

Many companies provide cargo securement training to new hires — regardless of experience — and as refresher training for drivers found to have a pattern of cargo securement violations during roadside inspections.

A training best practice is to provide drivers with a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). They are then able to refer to Part 393, Subpart I, Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo, during and after training.

A driver needs to be comfortable with the vehicle and cargo you intend on assigning. Training should be relevant to what he or she will experience, including the securement devices and techniques used by your company. For instance, training should cover blocking and bracing, tiedowns, header boards, cargo covers (tarps), and sealed container loads (if applicable), as they relate to the driver’s job.

A driver should leave cargo securement training with an understanding of the regulations and company specifics. At a minimum, he or she should be able tell you how many straps are needed based on the strength of the strap and length and weight of the cargo.

Keeping an Eye on the Load

Don’t forget to include the on-the-road inspections in your training. If a driver forgets or neglects to perform these checks, it may show up as a cargo securement violation during a roadside inspection.

Section 392.9 requires a driver to inspect his or her vehicle’s cargo and load-securing devices within the first 50 miles of a trip. After the initial inspection, the driver must re-examine the load’s securement after driving for three hours or 150 miles (whichever comes first) and whenever the driver makes a change of duty status.

About the Author
Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification. She can be reached at