What Causes Load Shifts in Trucking?

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Understanding Risks and Solutions of Load Shifts in Trucking

Damage during transit can turn a routine delivery into a driver’s worst nightmare. Load shifts, in particular, pose significant challenges for truckers and can lead to rejected shipments, financial losses, and safety hazards on the road. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes of load shifts in trucking, who is responsible for damaged freight, and what truckers can do when faced with this issue.

The Complex Nature of Load Shifts

Load shifts can occur despite meticulous efforts to secure cargo properly. Even when boxes and pallets adhere to all best practices for safe shipping, unexpected factors can lead to freight shifting during transit. A sudden stop, an unexpected sharp turn, or changes in terrain can all contribute to load shifts. Sometimes, a driver may not even realize a load has shifted until reaching the delivery destination.

Who Bears Responsibility for Damaged Freight?

When freight is damaged during transit, determining responsibility can be complex. Typically, a damaged freight claim lists the carrier as the party responsible. If the carrier is an owner/operator, the driver may also be held accountable. The legal obligations and responsibilities of carriers are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which aims to ensure safety and compliance in commercial transportation.

Carriers are required to carry minimum liability coverage by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, carriers often hesitate to file claims for damaged freight because it may suggest non-compliance with safety laws. Therefore, it is usually the shipper or receiver’s responsibility to file freight claim forms.

Understanding Load Shifts in Trucking

Load shifts in trucking occur when freight within a dry van or trailer unexpectedly changes position from its originally secured state. These shifts can have severe consequences, including throwing off the balance of the trailer, endangering cargo, drivers, and other road users. In extreme cases, unbalanced loads can even lead to accidents, including rollovers.

While there is no specific data indicating how many accidents are directly related to load shifts, it is a common enough problem to represent a significant portion of trucking-related issues. To address load shifts and enhance safety, various services exist to help drivers operate in more stable and secure environments.

Causes of Load Shifts

Several factors can contribute to load shifts in trucking:

  1. Improperly Loaded Trailers: Cargo that is not loaded and secured correctly is more likely to shift during transit.
  2. Sudden Stops: Abrupt stops or deceleration can lead to cargo shifting within the trailer.
  3. Safety Strap Failures: If safety straps break or become loosened during transit, cargo can shift.
  4. Changes in Terrain: Uneven or rough terrain can affect the stability of cargo and lead to load shifts.
  5. Poorly Balanced Pallets: Cargo loaded on unbalanced pallets is at greater risk of shifting during transport.
  6. Less than Truckload (LTL) Shipping: Freight shipped through LTL services may be more susceptible to load shifts due to frequent handling and movement between stops.

Proper load management, regular inspections of tie-downs, and ensuring balanced pallets are essential practices for minimizing load shift risks and maintaining cargo security.

What to Do When Your Load Shifts

When a driver realizes they are carrying a shifted or unbalanced load, prompt action is crucial. Depending on the severity of the issue, several steps can be taken:

  • If the problem does not affect vehicle or trailer performance significantly, the driver may choose to continue with the delivery. Most destinations will still accept damaged freight, especially if it represents only a small portion of the total cargo.
  • Documentation of the damage is essential for both receivers and drivers. Photographing visible damage and noting concealed damage on the Proof of Delivery (POD) is crucial for the claims process.
  • Receivers should contact the freight broker if redelivery is needed and file a claim with their cargo insurance provider.
  • Drivers should also document the damage, as they carry their own insurance in case of damaged deliveries, especially if they are owner/operators.

For situations where a load shift poses a danger or the destination lacks the equipment to handle damaged cargo, seeking assistance from a local rework warehouse may be necessary. These specialized facilities can help drivers and carriers resolve issues with rejected loads and cargo shifts.

The Role of Freight Rework Warehouses

A freight rework warehouse is a facility where drivers can have shifted loads and damaged pallets adjusted and repaired for safe and acceptable delivery. These warehouses are often located near major distribution hubs or metropolitan areas receiving frequent deliveries. Services offered at freight rework warehouses include pallet repacking, palletizing loose freight, adjusting shifted flatbed or floor-loaded freight, cross-docking, freight transloading, and short-term storage.

Both truckload and LTL shipments can benefit from freight rework services. These services not only improve delivery efficiency but also help avoid costly fees associated with rejected loads and redelivery.

Load Shifts in Trucking

Resolve Transit Freight Damage with CTR Towing Service

When faced with damage during transit, CTR Towing is here to assist. Our experienced team understands the complexities of freight logistics and provides the necessary equipment and expertise to handle loads of all sizes. We prioritize getting you back on the road safely and swiftly.

Contact CTR Towing for reliable assistance in resolving rejected freight issues and addressing load shifts near Dallas, TX. We are dedicated to ensuring your cargo reaches its destination in the best possible condition.