Many trucking companies and industrial courier service providers do not enforce safe shipping practices, let alone train drivers to follow proper safety procedures. Lost or dropped shipments are some of the main problems in this trucking industry which are only compounded by damages incurred that can increase your costs as you wait for a replacement item to appear. If you are in the market for a new courier service company, the following unsafe practices are something you must be aware of to avoid trouble later on.
Countless accidents on roadways have made the evening news, accidents which often involve a driver’s load being dropped onto the street with extensive damage to freight, vehicles, and people being the end result of such mishaps. A quick survey of the news over the past year reveals the following types of accidents among those taking place:
· Vehicles have caught fire on freeways simply from running over objects which were lying in the road
· Precious and / or expensive [as well as hard to replace] cargo is damaged
· Traffic tie-ups have occurred due to cargo being dropped on the roads while the driver manually loads everything back onto their decks
· Most freight is simply too heavy to manually lift back onto the vehicle, thus further time consuming arrangements must be made to have pickers or forklifts in place to remove cargo from the roads
· Accidents involving passenger vehicles situated directly behind the offending truck occurs as cargo falls off and hits cars
· Increased risk of injury to motorists, even death have taken place; in one grave circumstance an accident caused a person to be decapitated on a local freeway when a large metal disk flew from the truck and sailed through the car’s windshield after hitting a bump in the road
· Spills, including chemical spills and dangerous goods have taken place shutting down entire roadways as hazmat crews were called in to remedy the situation
Keeping problems such as these from happening in the first place does take some effort, but they are well worth it. These efforts should include: strapping the loads down with whatever is suitable for that particular cargo such as nylon woven straps, chains, and tie downs, and having boxes secured or placed safely in the cab of the vehicle. Basically, if you were to turn a properly secured vehicle upside down, nothing should fall off or out of it.
Please know that simply having gated sides on a courier service truck is usually not enough to secure your cargo as bumps in the road, the sudden need to slam on the brakes, or even navigating sharp corners can prove deadly to anyone who is near to the falling cargo.
All straps used must be rated for the proper weight of the shipment without any nicks in them as this could cause them to break. In addition, the ratchets must always be in proper working condition or they will not do their job. No weak links or corrosion can be allowed on any of the chains which are being used for that shipment. For that matter, nylon woven straps do a superior job in securing a load than chains do in most circumstances. Padding must be placed on sharp edges to prevent the straps from getting cut while vehicles and equipment should be diligently maintained and undergo regular safety checks.
Safe shipping procedures are just as critical to one’s business as they are to one’s health.
Large fines are imposed by the DOT (Department of Transportation) for unsafe shipping practices, but countless drivers flout the law anyway. Penalties of $5000 or more can be assessed while in some jurisdictions the truck and its contents can be impounded when egregious situations do occur. The threat of litigation and fines should be a deterrent, unfortunately for some drivers and companies it simply is not.
If you were to query offending courier drivers you would learn that many would say that they’re too busy to adequately strap their shipments while others simply do not care to make an effort. Legally, it is the driver’s responsibility to secure their loads. Therefore if a company is shipping something that isn’t safely packaged or skidded, the driver must refuse to carry the cargo. Regardless, some will accept the cargo anyway for fear of offending a valuable customer or to avoid confrontation with the shipping company. Furthermore, some shippers do not understand all the abuse that cargo can go through while traversing bumpy roads so they don’t take the needed measures to secure things properly and safely.
Likewise, there is the issue of lease owner operators who have a significant vested interest in equipment and costs versus the hourly paid drivers who use company vehicles. With some members of this latter group they have nothing to lose with very little incentive to even care.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a good trucking company or courier, then you must select one who has safety policies and procedures in place that they mandate their drivers to follow, regardless of whether they’re owner operators or company drivers. If a customer sees a driver pulling away from their lot without having adequately secured the shipment to the deck of the vehicle, they should call the courier company to lodge a formal complaint after ordering the driver to stop immediately to secure their load. Any courier service or trucking company that is not willing to follow industry accepted safety practices should be dismissed for the sake of your goods as well as for the public’s safety.