Flatbed Trucking & Cargo Violations
Flatbed trucking is unlike other boxed or refrigerated trailers. Flatbed trucks don’t have a box for the cargo, so it is often covered with tarps and tie-downs. This condition makes it very apparent to law enforcement officers (LEO) when something isn’t right. A tie-down flapping in the wind is a clear indication that something is not proper or safe.
The LEO might pull the truck over and possibly issue a cargo violation citation. The driver or fleet manager should consult a traffic attorney about cargo violations as some are misdemeanors due to the hazard they pose to other drivers.
A misdemeanor could get the driver a criminal record, a massive fine, and/or jail time if convicted. DO NOTmake a statement to the LEO, sign the ticket, and call Bigger & Harman, APC.
Check Section 3 of the DMV 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf for cargo transport, or Section 9 for Hazardous Material information and load requirements. You could help yourself immensely.
Why Step Deck, Lowboy or Flatbed Trucking
Flatbed trucking, sometimes called step-deck or lowboy trucking, is often the preferred method for shipping industries to transport modular homes, construction materials, motor vehicles, logs, and other oversized materials.
Regardless of who loaded the vehicle, before moving the vehicle on public roadways and freeways, the driver must ensure the cargo meets or exceeds the standard for shipping. However, for each state the truck must pass through, the driver must have a permit for an oversized load.
But, an oversized load could include one that puts too much weight on a single wheel or axle. Although the shipping document might annotate the overall cargo weight, the shipper might not weigh the truck’s wheels and axles separately unless the driver asks.
Once the driver goes out the gate, they are responsible for the truck’s weight or permits if required. Some truckers pay a small fee to check the weight at a privately-owned public scales to avoid an overweight truck. There are more than 30 right around Bakersfield and SR-99, and more than 50 around the LA and Long Beach ports.
Also, when cargo hangs over the sides or back of the trailer, it is immediately evident to the LEO that they should probably have a permit for an oversized load, placards, and/or flags and warning lights. This is especially true when the oversized load impedes the normal flow of traffic or exceeds the lane width.
Another problem could be when the flatbed is picking up a container at the port, and the driver doesn’t verify the weight. Whenever they come up to a weigh station, in-road weight monitors could flag the truck as overweight. When that happens, the truck must stop for inspection. Typically, the inspectors will find other cargo violations as well.
Specifics for Oversized or Permitted Loads to Preclude Cargo Violations
In addition to securing the load initially and getting the proper permits, there are other requirements the driver must ensure. Since there is no box limiting the load, the shipper might stack too much on the truck for its power rating or gross vehicle weight (GVW) for safe operation.
Plus, there are other safety measures the driver or fleet manager should take to limit cargo violations and safety missteps, such as:
- Affix signs or placards to indicate oversized load.
- Affix warning devices or signs to let other drivers know about a load too broad for one lane.
- Use flags and lights while flatbed trucking to warn other drivers.
- Use Pilot vehicles in the back, front, or both as a guide to monitor the load and traffic.
- Limit speed.
- Take more frequent breaks to check the load, tire treads, and ensure the cargo is secure.
These measures could help avoid cargo violations for flatbed trucking. However, if you get a citation for a cargo violation, do not make any statement to the LEO there on the side of the road, and consult a Bakersfield traffic attorney with trial experience.
Consult Bigger & Harman about Your Flatbed Trucking Cargo Violations in Kern County
Call Bigger & Harman if you receive a cargo violation citation (661) 349-9300. We are Central Valley traffic defense attorneys who only practice traffic law. We provide CDL holders a complimentary initial review of their case at no cost or obligation.
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Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf