Safety Protocols in Open Car Shipping

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff Automotive
15 Min Read

Shipping personal vehicles across different cities or coast-to-coast poses unique challenges compared to standard household relocations. Factors like automotive sizes, equipment costs, and timing constraints demand tailored solutions. Among available carrier options – from fully enclosed containers to exposed multi-vehicle racks – open car haulers deliver an optimal blend of affordability, customization, and balanced protection for most owners.

Unlike enclosed metal trailers costing premium rates, open carriers efficiently transport vehicles of all types using customizable lower deck or double-decker configurations to maximize payload capability in an accessible uncovered setup. Removing walls and a roof significantly reduces quotes by over 25% while still providing safe transit as long as sensible precautions are taken beforehand. These substantial savings explain the surging preference among everyday drivers, fleet managers, and specialty exotic owners alike.

But what specific steps optimize pre-shipment preparation? How are vehicles properly safeguarded? Let’s delve deeper into open vehicle transport best practices catering the ideal solution to your situation!

The Importance of Safety Protocols in Open Car Shipping

Adhering to proper safety protocols is crucial to avoiding damage and injuries during the vehicle shipping process. There are several key reasons why safety is vital:

  • Prevents accidents and injuries: Careless loading/unloading and improperly secured vehicles can lead to dangerous accidents. In 2020 alone, there were over 4588 crshes involving large trucks, resulting in an average of 1.2 fatalities. Proper protocols minimize these risks.
  • Avoids vehicle damage: Open carriers expose cars to road debris, weather elements, and potential impacts with other vehicles. This leads to millions in claims for damaged vehicles. Safety steps like proper tie-downs and padding can mitigate these hazards.
  •  Complies with regulations: FMCSA and other agencies impose strict rules regarding loading/unloading procedures, weight distribution, stack limits, driver safety training, and more. Violations can result in hefty fines or suspended operations.
  • Duty to care: Transporters have an ethical and legal obligation to deliver customer vehicles undamaged. Safety is the key to providing this duty of care and maintaining a positive brand reputation.

To put safety first, transport companies and drivers must address these potential risks and mitigation strategies:

Potential Risks  

Unbalanced/unsecured vehicles: Improper tie-downs and weight distribution lead to load shifts and falling vehicles, risking severe damage and injury.  

Collisions: Driver errors, distracted driving, and improper lane changes/turns while hauling oversized loads could trigger catastrophic accidents.

Cargo contact: Without proper spacing and padding, vehicle components may rub or contact each other, causing scratches, dents, or glass damage.

Weather exposure: Long drives through rain, snow, or high winds bring moisture, grime, and potential corrosion into vehicle interiors and components.

  • Mitigation Strategies  

Driver training: Extensive instruction in load securement, weight distribution, strapping procedures, and hazard avoidance enables drivers to create safe cargo transport.

Vehicle padding and spacing: Foam blocks spaced tightly to absorb shocks and soft barriers between vehicle touch points prevent surface damage.  

Frequent inspections: Drivers should confirm properly working tie-downs, stable cargo, intact padding, and balanced loads after every stop.

Limit transport duration: Multi-day trips prolong vehicles’ exposure to road grime and weather. When possible, expedite direct delivery routes.

Weather protection: Trusted companies like uShip use water-resistant barrier drapes over vehicles to shield them from heavy rain or snow accumulation during transport.  

By rigorously applying these safety protocols for every open carrier transport, auto shipping companies can gain customers’ trust, adhere to regulations, and protect their bottom line through reduced damages. Safety first must be the persistent pledge.

Pre-Shipping Safety Checklist

Loading a personal vehicle onto an open carrier trailer introduces new elements that may damage parts or the interior if the owner fails to take key precautions. Similarly, once a carrier accepts a vehicle for transport, their safety team must validate all checkpoints and ensure that protections meet regulations prior to departure. By jointly following this essential pre-shipping checklist, car owners and transporter personnel can uphold the duty of care from start to finish:

For Vehicle Owners: 

Remove loose exterior items: Detach rooftop luggage pods, bike/ski racks, antennas, and other unsecured accessories that may loosen in transit.

Check fluid levels: Confirm wiper fluid coolant levels are adequate for the duration of transit to avoid leaks or overheating components.

Charge battery: Validate battery holds sufficient charge to maintain power to alarm computer settings and will easily restart upon delivery.

Disable electronic brake locks: Release the parking brake and electronic brake settings that may re-engage unexpectedly in transit, limiting tow ability.

Check interior spaces: Take all valuable personal contents out of cabin and trunk spaces before loading.

For Transport Carriers

Confirm tie-down integrity: All straps and chains used to secure the vehicle must be in working, load-rated condition without worn spots or kinks. 

Validate padding: Soft foam blocks and protective barriers must cocoon contact points between adjacent vehicles and trailer walls during shipment.

Evenly distribute weight: Appropriately balance heavier vehicles over axles and lighter cars/trucks towards the middle to prevent dangerous trailer sway.

Restrict top load height: Limit stacked vehicle height, allowing for low clearances along chosen transit routes through underpasses, bridges, and tunnels.

Perform 360° final inspection: Walk fully around the trailer, confirming properly secured vehicles, attached padding, and balanced cargo load before departing the pickup location.

During Transport: Maintaining Peak Safety

Even secured atop durable open auto carriers, vehicles remain vulnerable to weather and road hazards throughout transit. Transport companies preserve their promised duty of care using these multilayered safety strategies while in-route:

Rigorous On-Road Protocols 

Transport drivers undergo extensive training to earn commercial licenses, allowing them to handle lengthy tractor-trailers and overweight cargo loads legally. This empowers drivers to navigate potential troubles, including expertly

Short-stop avoidance: Gradually decelerating over extra distance to avoid load shifts from abrupt halts

Wide-turn awareness: Swinging wide of curbs and medians to allow ample room for trailing carrier bed around corners

Low clearance identification: Planning routes to circumvent low bridges and tunnel heights hazardous to taller stacked cargo

Hazard evasion skill: Recognizing and averting debris fields, flooding zones, and accident sites that endanger safe passage

By combining route diligence, hazard avoidance, and specialized driving techniques, drivers uphold maximum vehicle safety mile after mile.

Active Monitoring & Communication 

Sophisticated onboard system enables around-the-clock monitoring and early risk detection, promising smoother transport:

Location tracking: GPS positioning allows online cargo tracking to estimate arrival status

Trailer analytics: Load balancing sensors prompt automatic braking if unsafe sway rocking exceeds limits

Traffic updates: Monitoring services update drivers of backups, prompting detours around long delays

Weather alerts: Earlier notice of severe storms allows proactive sheltering rather than mid-transport surprises

Additionally, check-in policies mandate periodic in-person or camera-verified inspections whenever stopping to refuel or rest. Drivers walk around verifying intact restraints protected spaces between vehicles and noting any new minor surface flaws requiring documentation.

Post-Shipping Safety Considerations 

Once vehicles reach their destination depot, transporters uphold their duty of care through final safety checks before releasing vehicles to owners. Diligent inspection and documentation policies empower fair damage claims should they arise:

Vehicle Inspection & Documentation 

Experienced staff thoroughly examine each vehicle offloading from the carrier, comparing its condition to initial images captured during loading. Even minor flaws like new stone chips in glass or paint scratches get noted on standardized condition reports. Vehicles with more severe damages may need special handlers to safely unload and park without exacerbating the issues prior to claims adjustment.  

These final inspections protect consumers from discovering new undocumented flaws once they get home. Likewise, detailed damage capture aids any insurance discussions by providing visual evidence should disputes emerge over when or how certain defects occurred during shipping. Transporters should provide multi-point inspection reporting as standard practice upon delivering customers’ vehicles.  

Damage & Issue Handling

Reputable transport companies have streamlined damage claim procedures to address vehicle flaws quickly. Policyholders simply file a claim form with documentation that assigns fault to events during covered custody periods. Assigned specialist reviewers determine valid claim coverage and fair resolution values based on repair estimates. Once any charges are settled, technicians can begin working to restore the vehicle to near pre-shipping condition per the consumer’s preference. Then, staff coordinates loaner cars or rental reimbursement during service delays, getting customers back on the road at no further cost. Proactive damage response protocols reinforce positive carrier reputations.

Legal & Insurance Aspects

Interstate vehicle transporters must abide by extensive regulations and carry specialized insurance plans to protect consumer vehicles in their custody:

Legal Authority & Licensing

Regional regulators, including port authorities, highway departments, and federal agencies like the FMCSA, govern commercial tractor-trailers and open auto carriers. These groups enforce manufacturing standards, load limits, safety specifications, and operating procedures on carriers. Furthermore, drivers must obtain Commercial Driver’s Licenses requiring proof of expert handling, hazard recognition, and load securement training before transporting vehicle cargo. Compliance ensures public safety.  

Insurance Requirements

Transport brokerages must carry substantial liability plans to compensate consumers for damages from flaws occurring in transit, ranging from minor paint scratches to totaled vehicles. Customers can request Declarations of Insurance detailing coverage scopes, liability caps, and redemption procedure guides from carriers ahead of vehicle shipping sign-off. Reviewing insurance protections is vital due diligence.

People Also Ask (PAA)  

Here are some common questions and answers about safety protocols and procedures for open-car shipping:

What are the key safety protocols in open car shipping?

 Drivers strap cars down securely to the hauler using ratchet straps, chains, and corner protectors on sharp edges to prevent damage. Vehicles are spaced appropriately to prevent contact. Regular inspections and maintenance are conducted on haulers and ratchet straps. Straps are checked at each stop during transit. Open shipping trailers have high metal sides to provide some protection from road debris. Anti-theft devices may also be used.

How do I prepare my vehicle for open car shipping?

Clean out your car and remove any loose items and non-permanent racks/parts that may blow away or get damaged. Check fluid levels and make sure there are no leaks that could spill during transportation. Ensure the battery is charged, the tires are inflated properly, and the emergency brake is not on. Disable alarms and GPS tracking if possible. Also, retract antennas and turn off toll devices.

What are the risks associated with open-car shipping? 

There is an increased risk of road debris and weather exposure leading to surface damage like paint chips, though drivers try to mitigate this, and the probability of occurrence is less than 1%. There is a greater chance of theft of valuables or vehicle parts left inside the car overnight. There is a small chance of vandalism if the vehicle is left unattended for periods.

How is vehicle safety ensured during transportation?

 Cars are thoroughly inspected and photographed at origin and destination to catalog condition. Drivers do visual checks at every stop. Real-time GPS tracking allows the transport company to monitor the location and road conditions the vehicle encounters. Insurance policies like motor truck cargo or auto transportation insurance provide coverage in case issues arise.

What should I do if my vehicle is damaged during open car shipping?  

Take detailed photos of any damage before taking possession of the vehicle and notify the driver/company immediately. File a damage claim right away with the insurance company, providing all documentation and evidence from pickup and delivery. An inspection specialist will review the claim and provide an estimate for repairs covered by the shipping company’s insurance policy.

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