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A brief look at federal and state cargo securement rules

In our last post, we began looking at the issue of cargo securement and the role it can play in truck accidents and truck accident litigation. As we noted, cargo securement is regulated at both the federal and state levels, and commercial vehicle operators and their employers have the duty to abide by these rules.

The purpose of the federal cargo securement rules, of course, is to ensure that securement systems are capable of holding up to threshold acceleration and deceleration forces. The federal rules, administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, govern a wide variety of issues related to cargo securement. The general rule for cargo securement is that cargo has to be “firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle,” but this rule is fleshed out with specific directives.

The rules require proper cargo placement and restraint, specific minimum numbers of tiedowns, and require special restraints for certain commodities. Cargo securement rules are related to working load limits, which involves a fairly specific calculation of cargo weight against tiedowns used for securement. The rules are designed, though, so that truckers who follow the general securement rules and the commodity-specific rules meet federal performance criteria.

Wisconsin has its own set of cargo securement rules, as other states do, which are aimed at regulating the use of tiedown devices. The general requirements of the state rules cover similar ground to the federal rules.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the issue of cargo securement regulation and how it can be used to establish liability in motor vehicle injury cases.


FMCSA, “Cargo Securement Rules,” Accessed May 19, 2016.  

Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Administrative Code: Chapter Trans 307

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