Securing trailer loads: tips and tricks

Securing trailer loads: tips and tricks

Every so often accidents caused by poorly secured cargo on trailers become news headlines. Are you confident that your trailer loads are properly secured?

Unsafe situations

Poorly secured cargo on trailers is a major issue. There was a recent case in the headlines in which Frances O’Driscoll, an Irish mother of three, suffered life-threatening injuries after being hit by iron bars protruding from a trailer whilst out for a morning walk. She settled out of court but has been left with irreversible brain damage. (source: Irish Times) 

The UK government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reported that, in 2013, it issued over 2,000 prohibitions to vehicles which presented a road safety risk because of how their load was secured. A prohibition requires the driver and vehicle to stop immediately until remedial action is taken. Failure to do so can result in prosecution.

Over the same period, another UK government agency, the Highways Agency reported over 22,000 road impact incidents caused by objects falling from vehicles. Dangerous for all road users, the incidents resulted in lane closures and took an average of 20 minutes to resolve. The resulting time wasted in traffic and the damage to goods and infrastructure have a negative impact on the UK economy.  (source: UK government)

EU and governmental guidelines

Fortunately, in 2014, the EU issued some guidance on load securing best practice. In 2017, the UK government published an updated version of its Load securing: vehicle operator guidance. Other countries such as Switzerland have taken similar initiatives. These guidelines cover most types of trailers and cargoes.


There is one exception. There are strict guidelines on the carrying of solid goods but none on the transport of liquid in tanker trucks and trailers. The law forces tanker trucks carrying dangerous liquids such as oil to be fitted with perforated baffles which slow down the forward movement when braking but do not provide any side-to-side stability. These make tanker trucks and trailers vulnerable to tipping over.


Luckily, whilst at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, Dutch engineer Dr. Erik Eenkhoorn developed a solution called a “Cairbag”. This rubber airbag, placed inside the tank, automatically fills empty spaces and stops the remaining oil or other liquid from “sloshing about” and potentially destabilising the tanker. (source: Science Daily)

Trailer loads top tips and tricks

In its guidelines, the UK’s DVSA suggests the following best practices:

  • Make sure the vehicle is fit for purpose

You need to match the vehicle including trailer and securing products to the type of goods that you are transporting to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

  • Load the vehicle properly

Stack the load against the headboard with the centre of gravity as low as possible. Make sure it’s stable without lashings to reduce the risk of it falling over during unloading. If necessary, place the load in a box, stillage or transport frame.

If the load isn’t against the headboard – or items could slide over it – use extra lashings, sails, chocks or blocking to stop the load sliding.

  • Choose the right securing method

Whatever method you choose, the load restraint system needs to secure the load to the vehicle chassis and prevent movement.

  • Use adequate load restraint

Incidents happen when drivers and operators underestimate how much restraint is needed to keep a load on the vehicle. Take the time to understand the energy forces that influence loading.

  • Communication is important

Generally, there are minor incidents and near misses before injuries and deaths. Encourage drivers to report these incidents and give them clear loading and unloading instructions.

  • Load restraint system

The combined strength of the load restraint system must be sufficient to withstand a forwards force not less than the total weight of the load to prevent the load moving under severe braking, and half the weight of the load moving backwards and sideways.

(source: UK government’s Load securing: vehicle operator guidance)


Advice on secure loading with TIP Trailer rental

With a fleet of over 64,000 assets, TIP is well placed to advise on the best ways to secure trailer loads. Customers renting trailers through TIP Trailer Services benefit from this advice and preferential terms to take on more trailers or reduce the number as demand fluctuates. Trailer rental gives you the best trailers and latest trailer technology without the high investment costs and overheads of ownership.

TIP rental options

We offer trailers on a rental basis in all forms including flatbed, curtainsider, box trailers, tankers and reefers to fill short-term gaps in your fleet. This is an extremely useful option for fleet managers needing to fulfil a last-minute customer delivery request.

Outsource trailer maintenance and repair

For peace of mind, as part of a trailer rental contract, TIP Trailer Services offers maintenance and repair management services. Whilst your rental trailer is being maintained or repaired, we supply you with alternatives to ensure that your business continues to operate as usual. Should one of the trailers require roadside assistance on the way to Dordrecht, Dresden, Dublin or any other European destinations, you can rely on our Europe-wide breakdown recovery service 24/7 365 days per year.

For further information on flexible trailer rental with TIP Trailer Services rental fleet, please contact us using this form.

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