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September 2017 Safety Coach: Why It’s Important to Secure Your Cargo Before Departing

Safety Coach

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many Texans will be hauling loads during a massive rebuild, either as a job-related function or as one friend helping another.

One way to connect with your workforce during this difficult time is to talk about the importance of properly securing loads. Our Safety Huddle resources provide talking points on a variety of traffic safety issues, including securing your load.

Each Safety Huddle learning session is meant to last 2 to 5 minutes but comes with additional discussion points if you would like to go more in-depth.

When you talk to your employees and drivers about securing a load on the back of a truck or another vehicle, pull them in with these attention-getters:

  • The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports unsecured loads cause 440 deaths, 10,000 injuries and 51,000 incidents each year
  • 5 people were killed, 62 people were injured and 1,134 total crashes involved a load not secured in Texas in 2016, according to the Texas Department of Transportation

Then, move on to the basics of a well-secured load, including:

  • The load is tied down with rope, netting or straps
  • The top, back and sides are secured
  • Large objects are tied directly to the vehicle or trailer
  • If possible, a sturdy tarp or netting covers the load
  • The truck bed or trailer is not overloaded
  • Animals are properly secured

In Texas, the penalty for failing to comply with these types of requirements is a ticket that will cost from $25 to $500.

Conclude with a few safety tips that will reduce the risk of losing some or all of your load and cut back on the amount of debris left on the side of the road:

  • Have your vehicle routinely checked by a trained mechanic for under-inflated tires, worn tire tread, and rusted exhaust systems that can cause mufflers and other parts to drag and break loose
  • Inspect the load, looking for any chance of debris or cargo falling or blowing out
  • Ask yourself what would happen to your load if you had to brake suddenly or if you hit another vehicle or another vehicle hit you

Think about the people riding in vehicles behind you as if they were your own loved ones. Let’s keep each other safe.

Tailgate Talk

Avoid Hydroplaning in Inclement Weather

Like it or not, rain will return to Texas.

When you talk to employees and drivers about wet weather, make sure they understand the importance of seeing, and being seen, while operating a vehicle. In Texas, headlights must be used at night and when visibility is less than 1,000 feet.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution as soon as you notice skies darkening. Headlights can save your life. According to TxDOT, in 2016 impaired visibility was a factor in:

  • 4,033 crashes
  • 62 deaths
  • 735 injuries

Nationally, wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million crashes each year. Weather can change from dry to wet in Texas faster than you can say, “armadillo,” so you need to be ready for anything when it comes to driving.

We cover the basics of driving in the rain in one of our updated Safety Huddle handouts. Use this free resource to talk about hydroplaning, which typically occurs when rain mixes with oil residue on the road and leads to a loss of traction. This could result in loss of steering ability and losing contact with the pavement.

Hydroplaning also can be caused by a combination of standing water, speed and under-inflated or worn-out tires. Share these basic tips to prevent incidents:

  • Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway; even new tires can lose some contact with the roadway at speeds as low as 35 mph
  • Avoid hard braking or turning sharply, and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you
  • Allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of you
  • Slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic earlier than you would if roads were dry

Safety starts before you get behind the wheel. Wash your windshield regularly. Make it your goal to see and be seen.