FHWA Reviews New Cargo Securement Regulations

Trailer and body manufacturers will be affected by new regulations if the North American Cargo Securement Standard (NACSS) is enacted. With a proposed implementation date of June 2000, the NACSS will result in a standardization of cargo securement requirements that trailer and body manufacturers will utilize in the design of cargo-carrying products.

Currently in the US, NACSS is at the Proposed Rule Stage and is being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Transportation.

"Overall, the commercial transportation industry is fully supportive of the attempt to have one cargo securement standard written for North America," says Dick Henderson, governmental affairs liaison with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

In an effort to reduce shifting-load accidents, the proposed regulation is primarily written as a load securement guideline for cargo carriers that utilize motor vehicles in excess of 10,000-lb gross vehicle weight or gross combination vehicle weight on a public road. With this broad encompassment of cargo-carrying vehicles, the regulation is equally important to the manufacturer of heavy trailers as well as van bodies and platform bodies for medium-duty trucks.

"There have been notable catastrophic accidents that might have been avoided if the cargo had been secured in a better fashion," says Sean McAlister of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administration (CCMTA).

In 1993, work began on drafting a Canadian National Safety Code standard for load securement. As the CCMTA began research into the project, it identified the need for more current research into the mechanics of load securement systems. "Most load securement practices and even the regulations used today came from railroad regulations dating back to the 30s and 40s," says McAlister.

"As work began on the project, and with the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it became evident that a North American standard for cargo securement would be an important ingredient to promote safe securement and uniform enforcement practices," says McAlister. For this purpose, a harmonization group was assembled representing Canadian, Mexican, and US governmental officials and industry experts that eventually developed the proposed NACSS document. Trailer industry experts played a key role in the development of the proposed NACSS.

Manufacturers Role in Securement "We feel this is an important proposal as it will require our members to perform design changes, test hardware devices and mounting stations, and review some current manufacturing processes," says Donald Vierimaa, vice-president of engineering for TTMA.

"We are also concerned about regulations for permitted-load trailers. The current proposal sets a minimum 10,000-lb GVWR/GCWR. We are proposing a maximum limit be placed at 100,000-lb GCVW," says Vierimaa.

NACSS does not stipulate specific manufacturing guidelines on the hardware selection, strength, or placement on or inside a trailer or van body. Manufacturers will be required to design, test, and build the product in a manner that permits the carriers to comply with enforcement guidelines.

TTMA is proposing several procedures that will provide a unified and recognized testing methodology for the trailer manufacturers. "We want to make certain there is agreement in the testing procedures of anchor points, bulkheads, and other components by introducing Recommended Practice (RP) #47," says Dave Bixler of Fontaine Trailer and a representative of TTMA. "RP #47, if endorsed, will set the tone for anchor point testing in trailers and van bodies."

Under the proposed NACSS regulation, anchor point testing is a critical factor for the construction of van trailers and platform bodies in some designs.

NACSS draft language currently states that cargo securement systems must withstand the forces that result when a loaded vehicle is tested by the following :

o 0.8 g deceleration in a forward direction;

o 0.5 g deceleration in a rearward direction;

o 0.5 g acceleration in either lateral direction.

If the cargo is not fully contained by the structure of the vehicle, the securement system must also provide securement for a downward force equivalent to not less than 20% of the weight of the cargo.

Bulkheads and van side walls must be able to withstand the g-force requirements that the regulation mandates. Labeling plates would be used to disclose bulkhead and van-side wall strength capacities.

Additionally, manufacturers might be required to provide tie-down hardware as standard equipment. Although the regulation does not provide for a specific number of tie-downs per trailer, van body, or platform bodies, there are requirements based on the type of cargo carried that would require the tie-downs to be in place to comply with the proposed regulation.

"The proposed legislation will ensure that all the requirements will be the same for all players," says Henderson. "This proposed standard is one of the first for the transportation industry because the standard is harmonized between all the involved countries."

The proposed regulation indicates that behind-cab protectors and rub rails are not considered as part of the cargo securement or anchor devices.

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