Properly Securing A Load

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Apr 03, 2019

If you’re transporting materials in your truck, van, or work vehicle you need to take the steps to properly secure your load.

Pennsylvania Title 75 – VEHICLES, Chapter 49 - Size, Weight and Load, Section 4903 states:

A person who owns or who operates a vehicle in violation of subsection (a), (b) or (c) and, as a result of the violation, any item, piece, fragment or part of the load escapes and causes injury to a person or damage to another vehicle or other property commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000. A violation of subsection (a), (b) or (c) which does not result in injury to a person or damage to another vehicle or other property constitutes a summary offense, punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $300.

According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over a four-year period there were more than 200,000 crashes in the United States that involved debris on the roadway. The study also found that debris-related crashes are much more likely to happen along interstate highways at speeds that increase the risk of cargo or debris falling off a vehicle.


Do Not Use Rope or Bungee Cords
Loads should not be secured with bungee cords as they are not rated for any kind of tie down. Rope should not be used as it is not rated for weight.

Use Ratchet Straps and Cargo Nets
Ratchet straps allow you to achieve the amount of torque needed to secure your load. Rated for a working load limit of 1/3 of their breaking strength. It is recommended to use straps with a cumulative load limit of half the weight of the load. If you wish to add an additional layer of security, you can add a strong cargo net to secure materials.

Make Sure Items Do Not Slide
Rubber mats can help keep items in place. Sandbags can add weight to light items, but the sandbags must be secured as well.

Use A Minimum of Two Tie Downs
Although one tie down may do job, it is recommended to use at least two in order to ensures the straps have plenty of control over the cargo.

Check the Weight Ratings on Anchor Points
Your pickup truck may have anchor points for attaching straps, or you may add aftermarket D rings or tie-down anchor points. If you must add anchor points, double check their weight ratings before using them to secure a load.

Balance the Load
The cargo’s weight should be centered and placed as close to the axles as possible in order to take advantage of the strength of the vehicle frame. If you’re carrying both heavy and light items, the heavier items should be placed on the bottom with the lighter items secured on top. If your load extends over the top of the truck’s cab, you will need to add additional load securement to the top of the load to counteract wind resistance.

Use a Cargo Bar
A cargo bar can be used to keep heavier objects from sliding around. Cargo bars alone do not secure the load in the event of a rollover, so extra precautions and straps should be used to properly secure the load.

Before driving with a load, ask yourself:

  • Is there a chance that items could fall or blow out of the vehicle?
  • Is load secured at the back, sides and top?
  • Would I feel safe driving behind a vehicle with a similar load?

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