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.

Your Future Truck Driving Job – Part 1

Truck Driving Job

You have decided to be a truck driver. Freedom from the office. Travel the country. Make money while being paid to drive and no boss physically looking over your should. In another blog I will discuss some of the cold hard realty of being a truck driver, but in this one I review your employment opportunities, well as far as the type of work you can be doing. This list will not be all inclusive but rather a detailed overview.

There are three major over all job classes and then within each of those are divisions based on the type of cargo or freight you will be working with. Types of cargo/freight will be covered in a future blog. Please understand that there are few hard lines in the sand when it comes to Truck Driving Jobs. Many companies work locally and long haul. Drivers may be asked to work with a variety of different freight and different types of trailers.

Your job groupings are Local (generally day work/home nightly); Over The Road (OTR) gone for a week or more at a time and Expedite. I split Expedite/Hot Shot out because it is it’s own mini world.


The most desirable work is Local because it is home night. The job resembles a normal job where y ou go to work, get your work assignments, do your job and go home to be with family. These jobs are not always day light hour jobs although many are. Many start early in the day because many times it is the driver’s responsibility to oversee the loading of the load.

Because of the home time with family, Local positions are the most desirable. Since companies always want to hire the most capable employees, and drivers with lots of experience are always applying for these positions, generally Local positions will go to the experienced drivers. Most new drivers will have to start Over the Road.

Over the Road

OTR jobs are the most often advertised as that is the greatest need. America needs a lot of freight moved and most of that often that freight needs to be moved long distance. Distances that can not be covered in one day. Since truckers are limited on the number of hours they can work, anything that requires more then about 5 driving hours will require the driver to take federal law required rest/sleep breaks.


Hot Shot or Expedite freight is often delivered in smaller trucks, many times Straight Trucks or even Cargo Vans. While there are some big rigs used in Hot Shot – many loads are limited in size (2 to 4 pallets), so the smaller trucker are more efficient. Expedite companies generally operate in regional areas and so drivers for these companies may work a combination of Local and OTR work.

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving Recommended reading if you know nothing about trucking.

Another difference is Company Driver or Owner Operator. Company drivers are just that, they hire on to work for someone else driving their truck. This is the logical starting point for most drivers as the cost to buy a truck and put it on the road is very prohibitive without a sizable cash infusion and solid credit. Plus, if you are new to trucking, you might want to make sure you want to do it before making a long term commitment of owning your own truck. Many large trucking companies also lease on trucks owned by another person or business but driven by a driver the truck owner hires. This creates a sort of hybrid situation where the driver is an employee but the truck is classified by the trucking company as a non-owned rig.

Great – Good or just another job. Your Future Truck Driving Job can be what ever you want it to be.



Commercial Truck Insurance – The Basics

Commercial Truck Insurance

So you are thinking about buying your own truck. If you though buying car insurance was confusing – get your head ache pills ready, you will need them after talking to a Truck Insurance agent.

The following is only a layman’s brief overview of the different Commercial Truck Insurance coverages that are used in the trucking and transportation industry.

Insurance is also one of the biggest fixed expenses for a trucking company – be it one truck or 1,000. And just like auto or home insurance should be reviewed to make sure it is still applicable – truck insurance is much more fickle because of changes in equipment, freight, drivers, radius, vehicle location, loss history, years in business, areas of operation and many other factors.

Truck Company Operations, 2nd Edition, by John Mittendorf

A few of the types of trucking-related insurance coverages:

  • Physical Damage is coverage for the truck and trailer. Factors on premium include the value of your equipment. It can be a percentage of the value. You are not required by law to carry this coverage but if you finance your vehicle the lien-holder will require it. It is important to insure your rig for the actual value. Do not over or under insurance the unit as the insurance company will pay on the actual value not more, but they may pay less if you did not purchase enough coverage.
  • Primary Liability insurance is required by federal and state regulations. Every truck owner or operator must carry liability insurance on every rig, even if leasing units. Liability insurance provides protection when a third party is injured in an accident. Owner-operators prior to leasing onto a company should make certain who will pay for their insurance – the company or from driver. Some companies pay for the coverage while others require the truck owner to reimburse them for the expenses.
  • General Liability/Umbrella insurance helps protect the business for property damage or bodily injury that might occur which does not involve a truck. Examples of this include slip and fall exposure at your place of business, advertising related exposures, and/or contractual exposures.
  • Bobtail or Non-Trucking Liability insurance pays for an accident when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. The coverage is sometimes referred to as deadhead coverage. Many trucking companies require truck owners to provide this basic insurance prior to signing the truck on to lease. The coverage minimums can be different from trucking company to trucking company and can also be affected by where the rig is based.
  • Non-Owned Trailer Liability protects the trailer you are pulling for someone else.
  • Non-Owned Trailer Physical Damage coverage insures the trailer you are pulling for someone else in the event of loss. $20,000 is somewhat standard for trailers.
  • Cargo Insurance covers damage/loss to freight in transit. Once you pull away from the dock, you are responsible for the fright you are hauling. Having proper insurance is the best way to protect yourself regardless of if you are driving for a company or own the truck. This insurance will have many conditions and may include exclusions such as unattended vehicle, maximum limitations on some commodities including garments, liquor, electronics and many others. It is very important to read the policy closely so you know what you are covered for and what you are not.
  • Terminal and/or Warehouse Coverage is used to protect freight that is on the dock at selected locations for short time frames. Although this is more a Terminal or Warehouse Operator issue, if your company unloads freight at locations other then at the consignee’s dock, you may need to review your needs to this coverage. protects freight located at specified terminals in the event of loss. Usually there are time limitations related to this coverage. Terminal coverage is often used for storage only short specific time frames, while Warehouse coverage provide for longer time storage. Policies may or may not include theft, fire, sprinkler damage or other losses depending on the value or the goods and the time frame of storage

After you have an idea of the insurance you think you might need, talk to several truck insurance brokers. This will provide you not only multiple prices/coverage options, but will also serve to educate you better on your insurance needs. While the internet can be a good source of information, nothing beats the knowledge of a trained and licensed local insurance professional. Coverages may very from state to state and several factors could affect your price.

You can talk to a call center where you have no idea how much experience the person has or a local agent you can meet face to face. It may cost a bit more with a local agent over calling some 24/7 call center, but with a local agent you can develop a relationship with. A local agent will be more likely to take the time to learn about you and recommend the best coverage options.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide legal advice or recommendations. Insurance coverage requirements vary greatly between state to state and can be affected by many factors including type of cargo hauled and areas or regions of operation. Only a properly licensed and trained insurance agent can assist you in selecting the proper insurance with the proper coverages.

RTS Carrier Services

RTS Carrier Services

RTS Carrier Services‘ mission is to provide industry discounts for transportation companies of any size so that they may grow, prosper and thrive in today’s competitive business environment. Headquartered in Kansas City, RTS Carrier Services is part of the RTS family of companies which also include Ryan Transportation, RTS Credit Services and RTS Financial.

Some of the areas where RTS Carrier services can provide discounts are:

  • Fuel Purchases
  • Tire Purchases and repairs
  • Maintenance and PM
  • Lodging Discounts
  • TripPak charges

RTS Carrier may also be able to provide Factoring of your outstanding invoices, Credit Reporting Services and Private Load Board systems.

Fuel Card Program: Our fuel card program features industry leading discounts on diesel fuel nationwide. We also offer multiple payment methods, online account management and detailed reporting.

Tire Discounts: Save on new and refurbished tires and services at thousands of participating service centers across North America.

Lodging Discounts:  Savings of up to 20% may be possible at many majoring motel/hotel chains.

Maintenance Discounts: Enjoy significant savings on oil changes, preventative maintenance, roadside services and other services vital to keeping your trucks on the road your drives delivering time sensitive cargo.

Factoring Services can greatly improve cash flow by getting you your money now without having to wait 30 or more days for payment. Factoring may be able to get you your cash in 1 or 2 days.

The Ryan Transportation maintains a private Load Board with 24/7 access from any online device with easy to search and easy to use features. Registered carriers can access the load board 24/7 to find the right loads to match with their trucks – in the right location at the right time.

RTS Carrier Services is a single source for many business support services,

Trip Pak Express

Trip Pak Express

Time is money, as they say. And billing for freight on time is more then just money – it could be the difference between staying in business or not. When drivers deliver the loads, the clock starts ticking on getting paid. You have already had to pay for the fuel. The truck payment to the bank has to be made on time and the driver, well, if they ain’t paid, they won’t show up for work next week. This is all money you have to pay out before you get paid.

Many shippers already have net 15 or net 30 day payment cycles, so you already have to wait way too long for your money. But if you add to that up to to 2 weeks before the driver is back at the terminal to turn in paperwork – now you have an even longer delay.


One solution to the rescue is Trip Pak Express Services. TripPak solutions help carriers increase cash flow and improve processes. Our menu of services and solutions deliver increased cash flow, lower costs, and improve efficiency to over 1,000 leading companies today.


Among the options available for users of TripPak services are

  • Drop Box services for timely forwarding of your original documents.
  • Scanning and Electronic Delivery.
  • In-Cab Scanning using a laptop/tablet and a scanner.
  • Driver scanning using Smart Phones or Tablets.

The drop box option also has different service levels from Next Day, Two Day, Once a week and a budget option for small companies that need reliable and secure services but lower operating costs.

TripPak Services also provides driver HOS log compliance auditing, including paper and electronic logs. Insurance companies are demanding that companies accurately track driver compliance with all regulations including HOS and the DOT has taken aggressive enforcement of HOS violations. You can not afford a driver and a truck being taken out of service for HOS violations and TripPak Service’s has the tools to provide audits of the Driver’s Logs. You have enough work to do finding loads, getting the drivers there for pick up on time, making sure the load is delivered on time and then collecting the payment. Let Trip Pak Express take one critical task off your desk.

Detailed information on 7300+ truck stops and service locations

Truck Stop Report continues to grow and now provides information and details on 7300+ locations in the USA and Canada.


Information is provided on the services and amenities provided at the individual truck stops but also the near by businesses. Available restaurants, motels, maintenance service, entertainment activities, hobby and relaxation is provided.


A key and critical feature of is the ability for truckers, RVers and travelers to provide feed back on their experience – both good and bad – so that other potential customers will know what to expect. An easy to use interface allow for information updates and corrections to be submitted to keep information fresh and new.

A milestone (7,200 trucks stops) and the future

A milestone of 7,200 locations entered has been achieved. More information on more locations. was conceived over 10 years ago. I worked on it occasionally but did not get serious until about 6 years ago. The problem was, I also operated a Postal and Shipping center full time and so my time to work on the site was restricted. To make matters worse for the project – I kept changing my own specifications. I wanted online available services (restaurants, diners, shopping, etc) adjacent to truck stops and initially I was only entering those amenities immediately adjacent. Over time, I started entering more stuff: bowling alleys, movie theaters, medical offices, pharmacies and others – but I also increased my radius outward to about 2/10 a mile. This resulted in substantially more research time per location.


Then a friend pointed out that I should be more detailed in my descriptions – even though the information was contained in the ‘visual’ charts. She stressed that people were more likely to to take note of the amenities available if it was written out. Again, more time to complete the data entry of each location.


In the middle of all these changes along with my already 50 hour work week, in December 2008, I was admitted to the hospital with End Stage Renal Disease – kidney failure. That resulted in me starting dialysis 3 days a week, 4 hours a day (plus setup and post treatment times and travel times) over 20 more hours of obligations. Plus, a side affect of dialysis is that it can be mentally and physically draining. This reduced my available time to work on TruckStopReport even more. But I pressed on – slowly.


In July, 2013, I received a letter from my businesses’ property owner that he planned to raise my rents by 50% plus add several additional conditions onto the lease. I refused. He gave me 30 day notice to get out. Having wanted to close the business for years anyway – that became my exit plan. While I was not able to sell the business and recover all of the cost in the equipment/customer base/business goodwill, I was able to get a small amount of money and more importantly – get out. This would allow me to focus on my health and on


For the most part, I did little on the site during July as I was busy packing and closing the business. Having not taken even a 4 day weekend in over 9 years, I opted to take about 4 weeks off (3 weeks of August, 1 week in September) – travel a little and visit family, and sleep a lot! On September 5, I was again connected to the internet and able to begin to focus on my passion – making the most complete listing of truckers’ amenities services. More locations, and more locations verified to be truck assessable. More amenities in the immediate area for truckers looking for services or needing to relax for a few hours waiting for a dock time, or being forced to be down long enough to reset their HOS clock.


I know I have a loyal fan following and I know that it is growing. That is a great personal reward – to look at my stats reports and see indications of returning visitors. I will continue to make the site more complete and add additional services/features over time. Many people send me updates and corrections on a regular basis and I hope that will continue. I always planned for to involve the people (truckers, RVers, and the general traveling public) allowing the site to always be not only the most detailed – but the most up to date, unlike printed books that are old by the time they are even printed.


John Carter / Editor

Lack of friendship in trucking.

I am a son of the trucking industry. From about age 10, my dad drove a truck – first for a local farmer/grain dealer and then for a family friend that hauled primarily rough cut lumber from local sawmills and seasonally grain. My two brothers were/are also truckers. Although one worked a few other assorted jobs, the other has driven a truck all but about 1 year after high school – over 35 years.

I grew up in and around trucks. I rode the jump seat in many trips with my dad to dozens of places in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky. From furniture companies, steel mills, paper factories, grain terminals, railroad yards and more, I have been on hand to watch the blue collar workers of America load and unload products in the processing of producing the goods and services which drive America’s economy.


When circumstances left me with few employment opportunities, I also drove a truck for a few years. While I had a Class A license, the majority of the work the company I was with was for straight trucks (Class B) and I opted to drive them. While it paid less, there was more (steady) work and I was able to be home nearly every night.

I looked up to truck drivers and respected truck drivers. And I always admired the friendship, cooperation and admiration of truckers toward each other.

I recently completed a 4000+ mile round trip ‘vacation’ from Las Vegas to southern Michigan. The east bound trip was the southern route thru Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, finally into Michigan. The return trip included a diversion down to central Indiana to pick up my brother, then back thru Illinois but up to Iowa (to visit a model trail museum), then Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, the northwest tip of Arizona and finally back into Las Vegas.


As I traveled I watched the interaction of the drivers with each other. We were traveling with out a CB so I could not hear any chatter, but there are still things you can read just by watching. And in my opinion, there is a new bred of truck drivers – the bred that has already taken over the auto driving in America. The “This road was built for me and I would prefer if I did not have to share it with you” drivers.

Truck drivers in the old would assist and advise other truckers when they were being passed with a flicker of head lights to indicate “you are safely around me”. The passing truck would acknowledge this with some form of light flicker (flashers or trailer lights) also. I noted for the most part, passed trucks showed no interest in the advising the passing trucks and the occasional times when the passed truck did so, the passing trucker refused or failed to acknowledge it.


I watched many times when trucks or cars were on the shoulder of the highway, that trucks would go past them in the immediate lane without slowing down or moving over, even when there was no traffic to their left. Almost a “I don’t see you and I don’t care attitude”.


I am not certain where this attitude is coming from – but I am afraid it is in part to the general ‘all about me’ attitude in America today and also impart to the 21 day wonders being cranked out by ‘train here, driver here’ trucking company owned driver’s schools, schools geared not to produce ‘truckers’ but to produce warm bodies to haul freight at minimum wage. I am not faulting the schools directly or completely – but I would love to see a return to the industry of more professionalism, more friendship and more compassion for other truckers and other highway users as well.


And I am afraid that if this trend continues – road rage between big trucks will become a new trend. Trucks and trucker are already excessively regulated and if truckers can not learn to get along with each other and start (or get worse at) disrespecting each other and other motorists, the government may step in with more regulations and higher fines for infractions. The disrespectful way truckers treat ‘cars and auto’ results in those 4-wheelers, who also pay road taxes and have a right to use the roads, to look down on and disrespect truck drivers. And these people vote and write their elected officials – officials who will pass laws farther regulating trucking.


Truckers need to police themselves and trucking schools need to teach respect and cooperation – with all who use America’s roadways.

John Carter/TruckStopReport

I have started the process to try and…

I have started the process to try and add facebook, twitter and google+ updates to my blogging. I am not sure how this is going to work out. Facebook is a pain to work with and so far, google plus has proven to be much harder. Twitter is so far the only one that seems to integrate the easiest. It seems to me that the smarter people are at computers, the more they think everyone is equally smart. When Bill Gates released windows, the whole concept was to make computers people friendly – to isolate the user from the ‘machine’. No longer would people have to know computerize to launch programs. Over the past decade, many programs to enhance the quality of the computer user’s experience have also required the computer user to study massive books or huge online instructions to complete anything but the most basic tasks. Some are even worse.