Dry Van Loading Tips

dry van

“The Load Shifted!”

A truck rolls in a curve. A driver loses control. After the incident the driver is quick to volunteer that the load shifted.

Why do loads shift?

Sometimes the trailer may be sealed and the driver has to rely on the loader’s good judgement. (I found from hard experience — hand unloading a trailer all night from a shifted load — that not all loaders have good judgement). Sometimes due to house rules the driver is not allowed near the dock when loading.

In other cases, the driver may be inexperienced or have lots of driving experience but little with a particular commodity.

The center of gravity should be less than 8 feet from the ground.

Tip: The center of gravity should be less than 8 feet from the ground.

Here are some dry van loading tips . . .

Before Loading:

It’s always a good idea to do some housecleaning . . .

  • Sweep the trailer
  • Pull any nails out of deck
  • Check for any holes (climb inside and have someone shut the door to inspect for light coming in) and patch if necessary
  • Verify Trailer number to manifest and destination


Load cargo tight and secure, nose to rear.

Cargo must be loaded evenly to distribute weight front to rear.

Do not load trailers side or top heavy.

Proper blocking and securement for loading reels, pipe, poles or lumber is essential as this type of freight loose inside a trailer during a tear out the sides, doors and /or nose.

Do not load loose steel in an enclosed trailer. Steel can easily slide forward through the nose (into the cab) or back through the doors.

Do not load steel coils with proper load securement inside. A coil can go through the wall of a trailer like it was made of tissue paper.


For Freight Placed Directly in the Trailer

Load Shipments together, Arrows Up, Labels Out
Heavy items go on the bottom, Light on the Top
Load Shipments Tight, Side to Side
Place any Taller freight on the Right Hand Side
Pails – stack a maximum of two high (unless unitized),
Support under pipe and Tubing – per §393.106(c)(1)
Chock reels or any freight that will move.

Cargo in vans falls under the general securement rules and all cargo must be secured.

Carriers have received citations for fully loaded vans that did
not have rear cargo securement as load bars or straps.












Make and Keep a “Solid” Load

To make a successful solid load, fill ALL the lengthwise space with
either product or fillers.

Trailer walls cannot hold wood bracing. Do not nail anything to the walls.

Only wooden floors in enclosed dry vans (or wooden decks on a flatbed) can have blocking nailed to them.

Do not overload the trailer. Compute the total weight of the shipment.

Under no circumstances are nails to be driven into the walls, floor, or nose of a refrigerated trailer.

Following these tips, driving carefully and prudently and defensively should help to keep any of your loads from shifting, resulting in a loss of control or rollover.

Thank you for reading this.


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