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.

Your Future Truck Driving Job – Part 2

Truck Driving Job

Your Truck Driving Job could have you working with a lot of different types of cargo. This section reviews some common types of the trailers you may use in today’s trucking industry.

Dry Van. Most positions, especially those for entry level drivers will be in the Dry Van Over The Road (OTR) freight business. This is because it is generally the easiest and also it the majority of the freight. Look at any truck stop and you will mostly see the big boxes of van trailers. If look closely, you will notice that some of them Climate Control Units on the top front of the trailer. Those are normally called Reefer Units and will be discussed in a moment. Dry Van Cargo includes household goods as well as business and manufacturing supplies. Dry food goods are also often transported in Van units.

Reefer Vans are used to transport, especially food and medical supplies, that require temperature control. However, Reefer Vans can also be used for loads that could be loaded on Dry Vans. That is one of the appeal for some drivers is the opportunity to get more loads. However, hauling perishable items in a Reefer requires the driver pay more attention the load and react to any equipment problems. These loads are also often more time sensitive requiring faster load delivery. (Note: All freight is time sensitive and needs to be delivered on time.) It is not uncommon for Reefer Vans to pulled by team drivers allowing for long distant runs to be handled with less required down time to comply with Hours Of Service rules.


Flat Bed as the name describes is simply a long flat truck trailer. These are used for machinery, building supplies, bulky items and plus loads that do not fit on standard shipping pallets. These loads may or may not need to be tarped or covered. Many loads do require tarps being placed on them – which can be both hard and dirty work. Loads that are not properly tarped could be damaged and may be rejected by the receiver and result in the company and/or the driver responisble for damages. A version of the Flat Bed is a Drop Deck, which has a portion of the trailed lower then standard trailers allowing for the hauling higher/taller loads.

Curtain Side or Soft Sided trailers are a class of Flat Bed trailers that are used for hauling loads that need to be protected from the weather. These trailers, sort of, have built in tarping that covers the whole trailer. For loading and unloading, the driver moves the soft, flexible sides out of the way. The loads are then loaded and secured like any other flat bed load, secured with chains or straps and then the sides repositioned to protect the load. These are specialty trailers used by truckers and companies that that nearly every load must be covered.


Tanker trailers are used to haul liquids. Although often chemical (hazmat), it can also be many other kinds of fluids. In the local transport business, tankers are used for Gas/Diesel Fuel to service stations. Special endorsements are required for pulling tankers and HazMat loads. HazMat loads, however can be many different things and are also common in Dry Vans.


Bulk Transport trailers are used to move commodities that are neither liquid nor packaged for handling on standard shipping pallets. Some examples could be bulk flour, sugar, etc being shipped from the processing plant to a large commercial baking plant that makes bread, etc. Bulk could also be involved in HazMat chemical shipments used in manufacturing.


Auto Transport, ok this is self explanatory. But there are two types of auto transport. Nearly all auto moving involves moving new cars from regional distribution centers to dealers. However, there are also opportunities for drivers to move cars from city to city such as for people relocating and needing to ship as opposed to driving their cars. Being an auto transport driver means you will spend a lot of time playing monkey climbing around on the trailers to load and unload the cars including securing them for the transport. A recent earning review disclosed that auto transport drivers generally made more money each year – but spend less time actually driving because of the amount time required to load and unload.

CDL – Commercial Driver’s License Exam (CDL Test Preparation)

Dump Trailers are used to generally haul aggregate commodities such as sand, gravel and some manufacturing products. Most dump trailer work is local in support of construction projects, however, there are some Over The Road opportunities in Dump Trailers.

Oversized Loads can be a lot of different things such as large construction equipment, extra large machinery for manufacturing or anything that will not fit on a standard trailer. Everyone, at some time or another, has seen the trucks pulling trailers that look like several trailer attached together and they may have 8, 10, 12 or more axles – far more then the average OTR truck with 5 axles and 18 wheels. These jobs are generally only given to drivers with a lot of experience.


I am sure I have missed something, and I will update from time to time. Regardless of what freight you move and for whom you do it, your Truck Driving Job can be a great career.