Whether you are planning to get a CDL or not, if you are in the hotshot business, it’s important that you know the answers to these common questions as it can affect the safety of your cargo.

Q1: What four things related to cargo are you responsible for as a driver?

A: Your responsibilities as a driver include:

  • Inspecting the cargo
  • Recognizing if the trailer is overloaded or has a poorly balanced weight
  • Making sure that your cargo is properly secured and your view ahead and to the sides is not obscured
  • Making sure your cargo does not restrict your access to emergency equipment


Q2: How often must you stop while on the road to check your cargo?

A: Re-checking your cargo as well as securing devices should be done as often as necessary to keep the load secure. You’ll have to inspect again after driving for 3 hours or about 150 miles. You could also recheck after every break you take during the trip.

The regulations for securing cargo and covering loads may vary from place to place so it’s a good idea to check the rules where you’ll be driving.


Q3: How is gross combination weight rating different from gross combination weight?

A: The Gross Combination Weight (GCW) is the total weight of a combination of vehicles plus its load. The Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), on the other hand, is the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a combination or articulated vehicle. If this value is not given, the GCWR will be computed by adding the GVWR of your power unit to the total weight of the towed unit plus any load thereon.


Q4: Name two situations where legal maximum weights may not be safe.

A: The legal weight limits for GVWRs, GCWRs and axle weights differ from state to state and it’s important to check the requirements of the state where you will drive. These limits are set to avoid overloading which can badly affect your braking, steering and speed control. However, during bad weather, and if you are driving in the mountains, it may not be safe to drive at legal maximum weights.


Q5: What can happen if you do not have enough weight on the front axle?

A: Weight balance can affect the vehicle’s overall handling. If there’s too much weight on the steering axle, it can lead to hard steering which in turn can damage the steering axle and tires. Underloading the front axles will not do any good too as it can make the steering too light to steer safely. Moreover, too little weight on the driving axles will cause poor traction, causing the drive wheels to spin easily.


Q6: What is the required minimum number of tie downs for a regular cargo?

A: You should have at least one tie down for every 10 feet of cargo. Small cargos should have at least 2 tie downs.

Special requirements apply for securing heavy pieces of metal, logs, lumber, paper rolls, concrete pipe, intermodal containers, vehicles, containers and large boulders.


Q7: Name the two basic reasons why you need to cover your cargo on an open bed.

A: One reason is to protect people from spilled cargo and this is a safety requirement in many states. Second is for protection from the weather. It is important to check the cover from time to time through your mirrors as a flapping cover can ultimately tear loose, uncover the cargo, and potentially block your view of other drivers.


Q8: What must you check before transporting a sealed load?

A: You can’t inspect sealed loads but before hitting the road, you should make sure that you do not exceed the limit for gross weight and axle weight.


Knowing the answers to the above questions will not only help you in getting a CDL, but most importantly, it will help you reach your destination and deliver your cargo safely and without hassle.