Securing Trailer Cargo

Securing Trailer Cargo For Safety

Unsecured or poorly secured trailer cargo is fairly common on the road.  We all see painting vans with a half dozen ladders on the roof, a mattress on top of the car or a carpet hanging out the back doors.  Often the body rubs the wheels due to being overloaded. By all means if you want to be pulled over, attract attention to yourself by being this guy. Anyone can be pulled over for being unsafe but the more obvious you are about doing a great job securing your cargo, the less likely you are to get pulled over.

 

Calculating Working Load Requirements

One of the most interesting aspects of securing cargo is calculating the number of straps and the working limit of each. This is covered in the video below but the general rule of thumb is that the straps have to be rated for 50% of the load weight. For example, you have an 8,000 lbs backhoe, your straps or chains need to be rated for 4,000 lbs.  You need one in the front and one in the rear. If the cargo is over 10,000 lbs, you must strap all four corners for a working load limit of 50% or higher.

One thing that I learned, and not until watching the video for the second time, is critically important.  If your strap loops around the equipment, the strap rating is cut in half. Why? The video doesn’t say but it likely has to do with how the strap was tested and that angles on the equipment may cut into the strap under extreme loads.

What looks to be a smooth rounded edge may decrease the strap strength by 40% when 2,000 lbs of pressure is applied.  Consequently if you have to have 4,000 lbs in straps and each strap is rated for 2,000 lbs, if you wrap around the equipment and do not use the hooks, your straps are considered to be only 50% of the listed 2,000 lbs working load. To compensate you will need four 2,000 lbs straps which are considered 1,000 lbs each to get the 4,000 total, or 50% of the 8,000 lbs.

 

Securing Accessories Or Implements On Your Equipment

Often times trailer cargo includes equipment with a boom, grapple, mower or other implements that attach  to the equipment. Implements require a separate conversation to ensure they are also secured. There are two ways to secure an implement.

  1. Utilize a factory locking mechanism
  2. Use straps or chains

A factory locking mechanism includes a pin or spring loaded locking handle that keeps the implement in place. These generally are designed for transporting the equipment with the implement attached. As a rule of thumb, if in doubt strap it down. Additionally, if a DOT officer can easily see you have taken the extra steps to secure your load, he/she will likely opt to pull over the truck next to you that did not take great care to be safe.

 

Securing Trailer Cargo Checklist

  • The better it looks, the less likely you are to get stopped. If it looks good, odds are you already did a good job.
  • Straps or chains are sufficient
  • Under 10,000 lbs, 1 strap in front and 1 in the rear
  • Over 10,001 lbs, strap the 4 corners
  • Secure cargo if it will impact the vehicle handling during an emergency maneuver or routine driving
  • Leave the load rating labels on the straps
  • Teach your drivers how to calculate the needed straps or chains based on cargo weight
  • Secure to immovable components, like the frame, not a brush grill
  • When in doubt, add more straps
  • Don’t overload the axles and tire max working load

Check the rules and regulations in the state you operate in and FMCSA for complete details.

 

Check out our other blogs on:

GEotab GO9 GPS Vehicle Tracking
Fleet Management Platform
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Tablets & Data

How To Properly Connect A Trailer

Properly Connecting a Trailer

 

The importance of training employees to safely connect a trailer is undeniable.  Still, many small service businesses use trailers and take for granted that employees know the law and how to properly connect trailers and cargo. There are several small but important things to train yours drivers to do, such as crossing the chains to avoid being put out of service.   Just because you are under 10,001 lbs, it does not mean you do not have to follow State DOT and FMCSA law as a commercial entity.

Trailers pulled by pickup trucks are the dominant configuration for small and large fleet operators outside the trucking industry. Moving a piece of equipment such as a skid steer, lawn equipment or debris likely makes up 90% of the small fleet towing. In this blog we discussing the typical pickup truck and trailer using a ball hitch with a GVW of less than 10,001 lbs.

Accountability for Proper Trailer Connection

It is important to explain to drivers they are responsible for following the law. To hold them accountable you must train them to the standards of the law and test their comprehension. This enables you to transfer responsibility to the driver should he or she get a ticket or be placed out of service. It is also important that your insurance carrier be aware of your training program and overall safety program, including what you do with telematics.

Most important is keeping your employees and other drivers safe. Faulty connections or worn parts can lead to dangerous situations. A trailer coming off the truck at 70 mph can easily cause a rollover, serious injury and fatalities. Something as simple as the trailer tongue coupler not being all the way down and locked on the ball can lead to a major issue.

Trailer Connection Failures

In a personal situation I trusted someone else to attach the trailer to my F-250. Within a 1/4 mile the trailer came off the ball and began to slam around. Fortunately we were going slowly in a residential area and a speed bump caused the separation. The trailer began to slam around as the chains held. The chains didn’t stop the trailer from swinging left and right and slamming into the truck. At that slow speed there was only minor damage. Since then I have learned to always double check since it is my truck, my insurance and my liability as the owner and driver.

In a commercial fleet any damage will result in a lawsuit from the other party and likely one from your employee as well. This topic should be covered annually and for new hires. Get ahead of the issues and proactively train. For consistency, create and maintain a company training library where you create outlines for your staff to use to lead training. One of the best and most consistent training organization is the National Safety Council. Check out their website for good ideas and examples of how training can be documented and executed.

 

Trailer Connection Checklist

  • Ensure trailer connections are tight and secure
  • Look for worn chains, wires and connectors
  • Cross the chains and keep them off the road
  • Check the breakaway braking cable & secure it separate from the chain
  • Ensure the load matches the truck, ball, hitch and receiver
  • Properly inflate tires, replace worn tires, and spec the tires to the trailer max GVW
  • Check all lights and safety equipment
  • Properly secure cargo. Over secure when in doubt. Chains are not required.
  • Properly mark commercial vehicles and carry the needed paperwork
  • Carry approved triangles and a fire extinguisher
  • Ensure the driver is trained and knowledgeable in connecting a trailer

 

Check out our other blogs on:

GEotab GO9 GPS Vehicle Tracking
Fleet Management Platform
Mobile Phone GPS Tracking App
Fleet Weather Service

GPS Tracking

Fleet Management

Phone Tracking

Fleet Weather

Out of State Ticket – Avoid Losing Your License

Dealing With An Out of State Ticket

Getting a ticket in another state can be a challenge to deal with. The thought of returning to Massachusetts to go to driving school, traffic court or pay a fine can be overwhelming. The good news is that Tampa based Fleetistics offers the National Safety Council Defensive Driving Course which is often sufficient to address an out of state ticket if okayed by the court. Of course, this must go through the proper process.

 

Talk to the Judge or Traffic Court

NSC-Out-of-State-Ticket-DDC-Training-2

Call the court of jurisdiction to discuss the possibility of taking the NSC certified Fleetistics DDC course as a way to resolve the ticket without returning. Send them this URL https://www.fleetistics.com/resources/nsc/ and ask if taking this course will suffice. Be sure to take notes on who you spoke to and when. Get everything in writing and hold onto it for 5 years. If there is an error you do not want a warrant for your arrest. Once you provide the DDC certificate of completion ask for a letter for your files indicating you have satisfied the court.

 

 

NSC-Out-of-State-Ticket-DDC-Training-3

Defensive Driving Course

 

Fleetistics is the only active certified NSC DDC trainer in Florida. We offer a friendly atmosphere, comfortable conditions, and a friendly instructor. The day is long but we make it as painless as possible. If you enter with an open mind you will actually appreciate the safety refresher, especially if you have children you are working to protect.

The DDC course is a combination of instructor lead conversation and videos provided by the National Safety Council. You are required to complete the workbook and be in attendance for the entire course in order to receive your certificate. For more on registering for the course click this URL. https://www.fleetistics.com/resources/nsc/

 

Commercial Driver Training

Commercial fleet operators can utilize the NSC DDC training as part of a progressive discipline and training program for at-risk drivers. Employers can pay for the training or require the drivers to pay depending on the safety and training program offered. This step shows the driver you are serious but that you care enough to offer remedial training and a final opportunity to exhibit the driving habits required to avoid costly accidents and litigation. Employers have more to add to their defense if subjected to a wrongful termination lawsuit by a driver. Insurance companies may offer discounts if the training is provided 1-2 times annually to keep safety on everyone’s mind.

 

Driver Improvement Through Targeted Driver Training

Ongoing driver improvement through targeted driver training is one of the hottest trends in fleet management today.

When based on actual driving history, it is an effective tool for driver improvement. A recent article in Commercial Carrier Journal mentions the need for more targeted driver training.  The article warns that in cab alerts are distracting to the driver. Classroom trainings like those endorsed by the National Safety Council are great, and have been the standard for many years.  We teach the NSC Defensive Driving Course on a monthly basis at our own corporate office, but it takes advance planning and time off the job for drivers to attend.  Business requires something that is readily available when needed.

Over the past couple of years, 2 primary models of targeted driver self-improvement have emerged.  Not surprisingly, they are simple merit models and demerit models.

Merit vs Demerit

Examples of merit models are game apps. Driving data is converted into a score and drivers compete for recognition.  Competition is the primary motivation because it is fun, and because nobody wants to be a loser.  Adding a reward, like a cash bonus for the most improved driver, maintains interest. Clearly, competition will promote driver improvement, but is still not targeted driver training.

Demerit models look for problems and assign targeted driver training.  Specific behavior, for example speeding, results in lessons assigned to the driver on how speed can be dangerous.  This achieves driver improvement in two ways.

  1. The driver learns how speed can be a danger to himself and others through the lessons assigned.
  2. The driver doesn’t want another course assignment that he has to complete after work hours, so he changes his behavior.

The goal is to provide a custom training course based on need.  Each driver is assigned lessons based on their driving deficiencies. A program like this is often administered by the Safety Department in larger companies, but in small and medium size businesses, who is going to do all that? Many businesses would like to implement targeted driver training, but only if it is a “hands off” approach.

Predictive Coach course modules

Predictive Coach Course Modules

The Keys to Automating Driver Training

To automate the process your GPS tracking system provides the data directly to the training app.  Training content on a variety of subjects is organized into courses and lessons.  When thresholds for unwanted behavior are met, the app assigns the appropriate training to the driver.  Drivers access training from their personal devices, and no supervision is needed. Training is easy to use, interesting, and focused on driver improvement. Managers only need to be notified when drivers fail to complete the assigned courses, but they can review lessons assigned and completed if they want.

Predictive Coach meets all of the criteria.

  1. Improves driver behaviors with a data driven training program
  2. Eases the burden of safety monitoring through automation
  3. Eliminates willful negligence around driver discipline
  4. Integrates seamlessly with your Geotab tracking solution
  5. Proven to produce results through targeted driver training

Predictive Coach automated driver training has been evaluated by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is proven to reduce dangerous driver behavior.

Predictive Coach Study Improvement Graph

Individual Predictive Coach courses contain 3 to 7 individual lessons.  The lessons are automatically assigned to drivers when exceptions to rules occur.  The driving rules used are the ones you configure with tolerances you set.  Managers are notified when assigned lessons have not been completed, and they appreciate the compact dashboards and reports that are available for reviewing and comparing drivers. Drivers can complete the courses on laptop, phone or tablet from virtually anywhere.

That fits our definition – automated driver improvement through targeted driver training.

Schedule a demo to learn how Predictive Coach is affordable, easy to implement and protects your fleet and organization.

GPS Installation & Troubleshooting

Save Time and Money

 

Learning the basics of installation and troubleshooting is often faster than working through the help desk. The devices can be installed in about 20 minutes and troubleshooting can be done in about 10 minutes. This enables customers to resolve issues faster than getting on the phone and then being asked by support to perform the same steps anyway. It means you can get your fleet back on the road faster and making money. Click the links below to read more.

The quickest thing you can do for an initial test is to swap the GPS unit not working one from a known working vehicle. If the GPS units continue to exhibit the same performance in the new vehicle there is a high chance there is an issue with the GPS device.

It is important to perform this and other troubleshooting steps. Returning a device found to be working will result in a $35 bench testing and postage fee.

 

GO Device Light Definitions

 

On initial power-up, all three LEDs on the GO device will flash once in unison indicating that the device is receiving power. If none of the LEDs flash, this is an indicator that the device is not powered on.

After the initial flash, the Green LED will briefly turn solid indicating that the modem is connected to our servers. The Blue LED will also briefly turn solid indicating that the GPS is working. Both LEDs will eventually shut down if ignition is turned off.

Once ignition is turned on, the following are common light sequences indicating an issue:

 

  • No lights
  • Red only
  • Red and Blue only (most common)
  • Red and Green only

Proper GO Device Installation

 

The images below display proper installation of the GO device. For proper installation, ensure there is no gap between the device and the port, then secure the connection with a zip tie.

Incorrect Installation

Correct Installation

Device Status Table

Login into your MyFleetistics account and click the widget in the top right corner or use the menu as shown.

Click the image to enlarge.

See what hasn’t reported, view on a map and open a support case from one location.

GPS vehicle tracker installation and troubleshooting
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