State Laws For Truck Tarping

In the truck driving industry, safety always comes first. Take the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that regulates commercial vehicle operations. According to the FMCSA, the agency is “dedicated to improving the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and saving lives.” A major aspect of drivers’ safety involves securing their freight load while in transit. Whether you have a load of sand, rock, live poultry or race cars, the load must be fully secure at all times.

Read on to learn more about the specific cargo securement rules by states to help ensure your fleet is using load-covering tarps as they are intended.

Truck Load Cover and Tarping

Tarping involves the use of a large sheet called a tarpaulin or tarp as a truck load cover. Tarps are affixed using straps, tiedowns, chains and other securement methods. Truck drivers hauling flatbed loads most frequently use tarping for securement. However, dump truck drivers and other open-top trailers also apply tarping methods for freight loads. To maintain compliance for yourself or your fleet, be aware of the differences in securement rules on the state level.

No State Tarping Laws

Here is a list of states that do not require load-covering tarps for dump truck tarping:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

State-by-State Rule Exceptions

Even in these states that do not require tarping per se, vehicle operators remain responsible for securing their loads:

  • In Arkansas, there is not a law for dump truck tarping, but you must cover any load containing rock, sand and gravel.
  • In Delaware, drivers must prevent anything from falling off their vehicle while in operation. The maximum fine in Delaware is $100 compared to a $500 maximum in Maine.
  • The rule in Maine is that any load must be secured to prevent it from falling off the vehicle. However, in Maine, the only loads covered include those of natural resources such as firewood, logs, straw and cornstalks.
  • In New Jersey, the regulation states that to enact a rule for safety standards of flatbed truckloads, a public hearing is required first.
  • Any driver who has a leaking or sifting (as in sand or gravel) load in Oregon is hit with a civil liability and Class B traffic infraction on his or her driving record.
  • Another state that has a liberal regulation for cargo securement is Wyoming. Here is where drivers must prevent loads from spilling without any mention of a penalty for doing so.
  • In Connecticut and New Hampshire, agricultural haulers transporting their goods get exceptions for securing their loads as long as they are cautious.

Strictest States for Securement

A few states — including Indiana, Illinois, California and Hawaii — have comprehensive rules about what to do if a vehicle driver spills, leaks or otherwise impedes the right of way of traffic with freight. However, if you take a look at the source of their rules, such as with the Indiana State Police Motor Division, you will see that these states are applying the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations as their own.

If you are hauling freight in Washington, notice that you could be charged with a gross misdemeanor if you do not follow commercial cargo securement laws. North Carolina is another state with extensive and interesting securement rules. Here in NASCAR country, there are rules specifically for securing freight transported for the auto racing industry. In Pennsylvania, truck drivers must be prepared to clean up any spillage at any time that comes from their loads. One way to make sure you are protected against noncompliance with your load-covering tarps is to prescribe to the federal-level rules for cargo securement.

Federal Regulations for Cargo Securement

Regardless of whether or not a state has a law stipulating tarps for cargo securement, the federal government does. Furthermore, commercial truck drivers are mandated to follow the regulations of the FMCSA above all others. Those regulations state that a securement system, such as tarps and tiedowns, must be used whenever necessary to protect a load.

To be compliant, keep up to date with both your home state and federal rules. In addition, take into consideration specific rules in states where your fleet frequently travels.