If you’ve never taken a moment to think about what it takes to move truck freight from start to finish, you should. It’s an eye-opening experience. For every load we haul, dozens and dozens of people and countless man-hours are involved in making it happen — and, of course, this translates to expenses that must be paid.
Even though most loads are handled without a hitch, there are still countless opportunities for problems with truck freight along the way, which can result in lost revenue for the company and sometimes even the driver.
1. Overage, Shortage & Damage
OS&D stands for “overage, shortage, and damage.” When any one of these things happens, we’re at risk of the customer filing a freight claim against the load.
Overage simply means there are more items on the truck than there are listed on the bill of lading for the entire load or a particular stop.
Shortage means exactly the opposite — it’s not impossible for the trailer to have been loaded out of order, only for the driver to find the reported shortage at the front of the trailer once the load is emptied out.
Damage is self-explanatory, but the causes aren’t: Truck freight can shift and be damaged due to poor loading, blocking, or bracing, unavoidable road conditions or debris, and, of course, accidents.
Damage can also be caused by a driver neglecting to properly inspect the trailer before moving with it. Holes in the roof can lead to wet-freight claims, and bad or broken structural and safety components can lead to major accidents and truck-freight spills.
Don’t take for granted that the trailer was fine the last time you checked it. Photos will always be requested to help document any cargo claim, so put your phone camera to good use and get several photos from different angles, with and without flash.
2. Theft of Truck Freight
Theft is another serious issue that, aside from cargo theft, can include the entire truck and trailer. Using the following strategies, you can significantly increase your ability to protect yourself, your equipment, and the load.
- Follow the recommended route – Using the route provided with your dispatch can help you avoid high-theft areas.
- Plan your breaks in advance – Know where you’re going to park and the place’s reputation. Major travel plazas are always a safer choice, but they aren’t always an option. Backing up close to solid objects like buildings or other trucks keeps thieves from being able to access your load.
- Don’t discuss your load – The only folks who should know about your truck freight or your destination are you, your dispatcher, and or law enforcement officers, if they ask. You may have been followed from that high-value shipper, and that trucker you’re talking to on the radio may be thief in disguise.
- Driver count your live loads/unloads – Unless you are not allowed on the dock, and the load is sealed by the shipper, always count your live loads and unloads.
Theft doesn’t just occur on the road. It can happen at shippers and receivers, too. If you haven’t verified the load, you can be held accountable.
3. Missing Signatures
If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen. Getting signatures on your paperwork seems like a small detail, but it can be the difference between a load with no problems and one with major headaches later.
Because many signatures aren’t legible, ask a signer for his or her name or get it from the person’s name tag and write it down yourself. Politely thank the person for their help by name, and be on your way.
The same rule applies for the receiver.
4. Broken Seals
Make sure every load you haul is sealed. If you are at the shipper and the shipper’s representative tells you that it does not provide seals, place a PAM Transport seal on the trailer, note the number on the bill of lading, get it signed, and notify your driver manager of the seal information.
If you’re picking up T-called truck freight, it is very important that you verify the seal numbers for accuracy right then and there. Don’t wait until you get to a truck stop or a parking lot with more light.
If there is ever a discrepancy at any time with your load, stop and notify the cargo claims/operations department immediately at 1-800-283-5569 or send macro 41 via Qualcomm.
Some destinations will require a gate stamp as proof of delivery, so be sure that the guard shack, receiver, and so on note that you arrived with the seal intact. This is especially important when the truck freight is a drop and you are not allowed to watch the unloading of the trailer.
Most importantly, when you arrive at delivery, ask a witness to observe when the seal is broken and have the person note that you arrived with the seal intact. This cannot be emphasized enough, as many cargo claims arise simply from inability to verify seal integrity.
Multiple stop-offs require each new seal placed on the trailer to be recorded on the bills of lading and signed.
If you’re out of seals and the shipper doesn’t provide one, is it acceptable to simply use a padlock? No. Unlike a seal, a lock does not ensure that the load hasn’t been tampered with and no one has had access to the truck freight. It will not prevent a cargo claim, as the customer will argue that someone had access to the load while in transit.
5. Incomplete Paperwork
Once the truck freight is dropped or emptied out at the customer and the bill of lading is signed to verify that the seal is intact, there’s still more to do.
Payroll can’t process the load on your paycheck without that paperwork — all of it. Make sure the paperwork is protected from the elements and damage to ensure transmission when scanning it or using your Transflo mobile app. Make getting these documents processed a priority once your truck freight has emptied out, and you’ll never have billing or related payroll issues again.
Clear, early, and frequent communication with your PAM Transport team about any issues that come up will help make sure you have the tools you need to navigate any obstacles you encounter on the job. If you aren’t successful as a professional driver, we aren’t successful as a company.