Cargo Restraint – Dry Vans and Reefers

Cargo Restraint

Cargo Restraint – something every professional truck driver had better understand. New truck drivers might think that only Flat Bed drivers need to worry about proper cargo tie down methods and the laws that apply to such loads to keep the cargo securely in place. And those drivers would be wrong.

For obvious reasons, bulk loads hauled in open Dump Trailers are universally required to have covers over their loads. While this is generally a local or a state requirement, nearly all states are really picky about this so regardless of where you are at you need to be aware of the requirements.

Of less obvious to new drivers are the needs to secure cargo in Dry Vans and/or Reefers. Many times, you will have loads that do not occupy the entire trailer and, especially taller items, may need to be secured to the sides of the trailers to prevent the load from falling over and being damaged. It may also be necessary to segregate cargo going to different delivery locations.

In a few cases, you might have a very heavy item that you must carefully place on the trailer to maintain proper weight distribution on your axles. In these situations, you will want restrain the cargo from moving and thus affecting your weight limits.

Some different Cargo Restraint methods

If you look in the back of most trailers, you may notice a series (typically 3) rows of a metal track about 3 inches high that runs the length of the trailer and with slots cut vertically spaced about 2 inches apart. This is known as “E-Track”. With three rows, one 6” from the floor, one about 4 foot (plus or minus) above the floor and another about 6 foot, there are multiple opportunities to properly secure the load.

There are two most common methods of attaching to the E-Track, one is a flexible cargo strap that can be wrapped around the item to be secured. These straps are adjustable to fit almost any situation be it across the trailer from side to side or both ends attached to the same side of the trailer to hold the item firmly against the side.

Another option to attach to E-Track is the use of Rigid Load Bars. These are only good for going from side to side in the trailer and are especially useful for loads that do not go the entire length of the trailer and prevents the load from moving forward or backward during transport. These load bars can also be used to create a method of loading something over another part of the shipment but the upper load will rest on the load bars and not on the lower freight.

There are also friction load bars used to go from trailer side to trailer slide to prevent cargo from moving during transport, however, these are not as secure as E-Track load bars because they depend on the sides of the trailer to not flex enough that the bar becomes lose and falls out of place.

There are many sources and makers of E-Track equipment but two of the best known are US Cargo Control and For more information on cargo restraint in general and E-Track equipment, these two companies are excellent sources of information.

Regardless of the kind of cargo you haul, local or long distance: Cargo Restraint will be a part of your duties.