As I was traveling down Chester Road yesterday, I and many others came upon a busted bag of pine tags in the middle of the road, which incidentally, you could not tell that they were pine tags until you got up to it. This is just one of numerous examples of a person not properly securing his or her load. To start with, it is each and every one of our responsibilities to secure our load, and ensure that nothing comes out of our vehicle, whether driving a small car or an 18-wheeler.
I will start with your trailer. It is as important to ensure that your trailer is properly attached to your vehicle. Let’s go through the steps:
• Hitch is properly pinned into receiver
• The ball is the appropriate size for the trailer
• The trailer is secured to the ball, locking mechanism activated
• The safety chains are properly in place
• The brake cable is hooked up, if applicable.
• The tires on the trailer are properly inflated, and the hubs have enough grease.
• The trailer is not overloaded
Now it is time to make sure that your load is secure. If you cannot put your load in an enclosed compartment of a vehicle or trailer, then you have the responsibility of securing it so that the wind generated from you going down the road does not affect it. Also, you may need to reduce your speed to ensure that your load stays on your vehicle. Whether you have high sides on your trailer or not, you need to cover your load and strap it in. Realize, the people traveling around you are not necessarily paying attention to your load, until it comes out of your vehicle and becomes their driving hazard. While I am here, I will also remind you to flag anything that hangs behind your vehicle or trailer.
To the men and women that drive dump trucks or tractor-trailers for a living, please do your job. Dump truck drivers need to ensure that their load covers are intact and in place. Another thing that needs to be checked is the latching mechanism for the gate, and ensuring that it is closed properly. There is nothing worse than a truck leaving a rock quarry and dropping rocks along the roadway, possibly breaking someone’s windshield. It is just as important that those who drive tractor-trailers ensure that their entire load is secured. For long distance trips, the load should be checked periodically. We have a practice in the fire service where the driver makes a walk around the vehicle before leaving an emergency scene or any place where the vehicle has been parked.
I will close with this. Yesterday, I had a young lady get upset with me for traveling slower down Centralia Road, so much so, she shared some non-verbal communication. My only goal was to get those 14-foot deck boards, in a short bed truck, from point A to point B, without them ending up in anyone’s grill or going through anyone’s windshield. I was successful in my journey, which is my responsibility when carrying any type of load. Awkward loads require more time in securing, as well as more travel time.