Save Time with a Cargo Control Checklist

Working as a flatbed truck driver involves spending time waiting for cargo to be loaded and secured before hitting the road. This is time a driver is usually not compensated for, so getting things done as quickly as possible is paramount to getting the wheels turning again. Still, drivers have to be thorough in their cargo control procedures so as to not jeopardize their loads.

A good way to save time and ensure cargo is properly secured is to establish a cargo control checklist that becomes a standard operating procedure. While this may sound obvious, you might be surprised how many drivers have no such checklist in place. They approach every load in a random matter, where cargo control is dictated by immediate circumstances. Having a checklist in place is a better option because it ensures all of the necessaries are addressed in a way that eventually leads to the driver following his or her checklist routine as a matter of habit.


It should be noted that a cargo control checklist does not have to be a formal document that the driver prints out by the hundreds so that each load has its own piece of paper. A driver may create a document to start with, but after following the checklist routine numerous times, most drivers are going to memorize it. Then it becomes a mental exercise rather than a paper one.

Cargo Control Checklist Basics

How a driver organizes his or her cargo control checklist is a matter of preference. There should be certain categories of things on every driver’s checklist, things that are appropriate to cargo control. For example:

  • Tarps and Straps – Truck tarps and straps should be inspected prior to arriving to pick up a load. Not inspecting cargo control supplies increases the likelihood of getting to a job and finding that damaged equipment cannot be used. Then the driver is slowed down while he or she searches locally for replacements.
  • Inspecting Loads – Flatbed truck drivers are ultimately responsible for how cargo is loaded on their trailers. There should be a process in place for inspecting loads to make sure weight issues are addressed, there is no unnecessary space between cargo items, and that cargo is properly blocked if necessary.
  • Securing the Cargo – Once a trailer has been loaded and securing has commenced, a system should be in place so that tarps and straps are always applied in the same way. For example, some truckers will first make sure all of their straps and/or chains are applied, then walk around the trailer to tighten down each winch consecutively.
  • Final Inspection – Just prior to departure, the truck driver should be performing a vehicle safety inspection as a matter of routine. Within that inspection, he or she can also make provision to do a final inspection of cargo control equipment. Straps, chains, and tarps should all be given the once over.
  • Inspections on the Road – Lastly, an important part of a cargo control checklist that should not be ignored are the inspections done while on the road. Drivers should be checking their loads within the first 50 miles of departure and then with every additional stop along the way. The same checklist used for the final inspection is appropriate to on-the-road inspections.

Cargo control is a normal part of flatbed trucking. Drivers can save time and do a better job of securing cargo by developing a cargo control checklist and following it on every job. A well-designed checklist turns what could be a random exercise into something that becomes routine.

Tax Deductions for Trucking Supplies: What You Need to Know

The arrival of fall means truck drivers start seeing things pick up on the business side as well, especially in advance of the holiday season, which always brings with it, more loads to haul. The increased activity makes fall the perfect time to start thinking about taxes.

Truck drivers file their taxes as either self-employed independent contractors or employees of their carriers. How they file determines the kinds of deductions they can take for the trucking supplies they purchase. Those supplies can include everything from truck tarps to protective clothing to in-cab electronics.



Before we get into the differences between filing as a self-employed individual and a company employee, we need to first discuss state and federal taxes. The IRS is the primary taxing authority in this country. States do assess their own taxes, but they tend to defer to the federal government. For example, those that collect income tax will often rely on federal calculations for things such as deductions and taxable income. Therefore, it is of vital importance that truck drivers understand the federal regulations to keep the IRS happy and correctly file state returns.

Filing as an Independent Contractor

The IRS regards independent contractors as self-employed individuals operating their own businesses. There can be some gray areas depending on the relationship of the truck driver to the company or companies he or she hauls for, so any questions about tax status should be referred to an experienced tax attorney.

The independent contractor who truly qualifies as self-employed under the law can essentially deduct any and all trucking supplies obtained for the purposes of conducting business. This would immediately bring to mind things like truck tarps and cargo control equipment such as bungee cords, chains and straps, wide load flags, etc. But it also includes other things as well.

For example, a trucker required to invest in steel-toed boots and a hard hat in order to haul certain kinds of loads would be able to deduct those expenses as long as the purchased items are used exclusively for work. The same holds true for things such as GPS units, hand tools, and so on.

Filing as a Company Employee

The number of deductions allowed for company employees can be significantly less depending on how trucking supplies are obtained. Anything an employer gives directly to the driver is obviously not deductible. A driver also cannot deduct the cost of any trucking supplies for which he or she is reimbursed by the employer.

With those restrictions understood, the same kinds of things qualify for deductions. Drivers can deduct cargo control supplies, protective clothing, electronics, hand tools, and even limited transportation expenses. For example, if a trucker has to fly to some specific destination to pick up a truck, the cost of airfare and accommodations can usually be deducted if not reimbursed by the employer.

The one thing to be aware of for both independent contractors and company employees are deductions for meals. This is one area where IRS regulations are ambiguous. The reason is simple: truck drivers have to eat just like every other kind of worker. The fact that they eat while on the road does not change that. So just like an office worker cannot deduct groceries as a business expense, truck drivers can only deduct meal expenses under certain conditions.

Truck drivers can use work-related expenses to reduce the tax liabilities. This is actually a smart thing to do. But truckers need to be careful, too. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they should leave their taxes to the professionals.

Horizontal or Vertical: How Do You like Your E-Track Straps?

When you walk into a store that sells cargo control supplies and ask for e-track straps, and you’ll have to choose between horizontal and vertical. Yes, there are two kinds of e-track for different types of cargo control strategies. Both work the same way. The only difference is how the anchor points are presented in relation to the length of the track. The difference though, is important to certain types of loads.



Horizontal E-Track

The more commonly used of the two e-track options is horizontal. The track gets its name from the fact that it is designed to be mounted horizontally along the inside of a dry goods or a box truck, either on the walls or along the floor. As for the anchor points, these are engineered to be perpendicular to the top and bottom edges of the track.

Box trucks are the ideal environment for horizontal e-track because they tend to haul all sorts of loads that don’t necessarily take up all of the dead space in the box. Horizontal tracks offer the maximum number of anchor points for an unlimited combination of cargo control strategies.

For example, a truck driver could use load bars that stretch across the entire width of the box to keep cargo from moving front to back or vice versa. Provided that a load is secure from side to side, load bars may be all that’s necessary to keep things in place. The main advantage of load bars is that they can be deployed and removed in just seconds. They have specially designed ends that slip quickly into anchor points and snap into place.

Loads requiring a bit more control can be secured with bungee cords, ropes, or mesh straps. Drivers can use the built-in anchor points or attach D-rings, hooks, or other anchor points as needed. And because horizontal tracks can be secured quickly and easily with screws, it doesn’t take much to outfit a trailer or box truck with the appropriate number of e-tracks in just minutes.

Vertical E-Track

Vertical e-tracks are names so as they designed to be installed vertically. The anchor points are engineered to be parallel to the inside and outside edges of the track, making it possible to adjust the height of load bars, straps, and bungee cords. A vertical system is preferred when the height of hauled loads changes from trip to trip.

Some flatbed truckers have found creative ways to use vertical e-track by attaching it right to the bed of the trailer. This provides anchor points that run parallel to the outside edges of the trailer, giving drivers plenty of options for tying down cargo. Having said that, e-track should not be relied on as the sole means of anchor points for flatbed loads. They should offer only supplemental anchor points for extra anchoring or to secure tarps over loads that have already been solidly anchored.

We Carry E-Track

When shopping for e-track, look for a galvanized product made of high-grade steel. Mytee Products carries both horizontal and vertical e-track in 12-gauge galvanized steel with anchor points every 2 inches. We sell them in 5-foot lengths for easy configuration.

As with any of your trucking supplies, quality means something. Paying a little extra for a high-quality product goes a long way toward saving money in the future by not having to replace your products as often. Please take a look at our e-track along with related items such as ratchet straps, cam straps, load bars, and cam buckles. We have everything you need to keep your cargo safe and secure.

Understanding Why Tarps Get Brittle in Cold Weather

Experienced truckers are well aware that extreme cold weather and truck tarps do not necessarily play well together. The colder the temperature, the more brittle tarp fabrics become. Tarps tend to tear or break with just the slightest amount of pressure in extremely frigid conditions. But why does this happen?

To someone not familiar with the science, it may seem strange that a poly or vinyl tarp can hold up very well in hot summer weather but then become fragile in the dead of winter. But knowing the science suddenly clears things up.



The Nature of Plastics

Vinyl, polyethylene, and polypropylene are all plastic polymers that can be used for multiple applications. Some finished materials are engineered to be extremely rigid while others are a lot more flexible. The flexible plastic polymers owe their flexibility to something MIT calls ductility. What is ductility? It is the ability of the molecules in a polymer to stretch.

Plastic polymers consist of chains of molecules bound together to form a particular substance. If it helps, think of a standard chain-link made of rubber rather than steel. The rubber link can be stretched fairly easily while a steel link cannot. The molecule chains of plastic polymers are similar to a rubber chain-link except on a molecular scale.

The thing to understand about plastic polymers is that the molecule chains only remain flexible in warm temperatures. The colder it gets, the less flexible the chains become. It is possible, under extremely cold conditions, for molecule chains to be frozen in place. When this occurs, a vinyl or poly material becomes extremely fragile. But even if the chains do not freeze, vinyl and poly materials do get more brittle as the temperature falls.

Wind Adds to the Problem

Cold temperatures automatically reduce the flexibility of vinyl and poly tarps by reducing the ductility of plastic polymer chains. When you throw in the wind caused by a truck driving down the highway, conditions deteriorate even further. It’s a matter of the wind displacing surface heat.

Although wind chill does not apply to non-biological materials, the wind chill principal is similar to what happens with truck tarps when exposed to cold. The wind displaces any surface heat a vinyl or poly tarp may hold, thus causing a further reduction in temperature. Any heat that might be absorbed by sunshine will also be displaced by the wind.

As you can see, combining already cold temperatures with the wind of highway travel exposes vinyl and poly tarps to the kinds of conditions that would significantly reduce ductility. The more drastic the combination of cold and wind, the less flexible a tarp is.

Tarp Maintenance in Winter

Now that you know the science behind brittle truck tarps, the obvious thing to do is to take extra good care of your tarps during the winter months. We highly recommend being more careful when applying tarps in cold and windy conditions so as to avoid tears and rips. Make sure to use edge and corner protectors. The right combination of cold and wind could cause a sharp edge to rip right through a cold tarp.

Tarping loads indoors would be ideal as the temperatures will be warmer and it is easy to apply the tarp by oneself. If that’s not possible, it’s always a good idea to enlist any available help to get tarps on and secured as quickly and safely as possible. Also avoid standing on top of a load after a tarp has been applied because cold tarps can be slippery.

So now that


1. MIT –

It’s Time for Your Winter Inventory Check

With winter just a few months away, now is the right time for the trucker’s annual winter inventory check. Look through your toolboxes to make sure you have exactly what you need for tough winter driving and cargo control. Repair what needs fixing, replace what needs to be replaced, and buy any additional trucking supplies you need to fill in gaps in your inventory.


Mytee Products has everything you need for safe and productive winter driving. We invite you to browse our entire inventory for the following critical supplies:

Truck Tarps
Every trucker who does flatbed work needs to have a full selection of tarps on hand at all times. During the winter months, the trucker’s choice of tarps can mean the difference between adequate protection and taking risks with cargo. In terms of fabrics, there are three main choices:

  • Poly Tarps
    Made of polyethylene or polypropylene, poly tarps are considered all-purpose tarps. They are generally UV-treated and waterproof, so they’re not bad as general tools for cargo control. They may not be the best choice during harsh winter weather that can include very low temperatures.
  • Vinyl Tarps
    Also known as heavy duty tarps or machinery tarps, vinyl tarps tend to be the strongest and most durable that truckers can buy. They provide the most resistance against stress, tearing and abrasions, and they can handle cold temperatures exceptionally well. The best vinyl tarps on the market don’t even flinch at temperatures well below zero.
  • Canvas Tarps
    Canvas tarps are a good choice when breathability is an issue. They also handle cold temperatures well, but struggle with standing water. Canvas tarps are subject to mold growth and could tear as a result of ice buildup. It is advisable to use them with caution during the winter.

Tires and Chains

Every trucker knows how critical tires are in bad weather. Good tires are essential during the winter months, as are chains. Make sure all of your tires are in good condition before winter weather sets in. We also advise truckers who frequently travel through areas requiring tire chains to purchase their own rather than relying on chain banks. We carry both singles and doubles.

Straps, Binders, and Winches

Cold temperatures and high winds can make securing cargo a real challenge during the winter. Cargo control is easier when the truck driver has the right kinds of supplies in good working condition. Therefore, check your toolbox for an ample supply of mesh and bungee straps, binders, winches, and chains. If any of your straps are worn, keep in mind that cold temperatures could cause them to fail at any point. Worn straps should be replaced.

Along with straps, binders and winches, drivers should have an ample supply of corner and edge protectors. Remember that even vinyl tarps can get brittle in cold temperatures. Where corner and edge protectors may not be necessary during the warmer temperatures of summer, they could make a real difference in protecting your tarps once temperatures drop.

Get What You Need Now

Investing in the trucking supplies you need for winter earlier ensures that you will receive everything you order before the weather begins to get troublesome. Winter weather makes for more difficult driving even with the proper supplies on hand. Don’t make your job more difficult than it needs to be this winter by ignoring your inventory of trucking supplies. Order your supplies from Mytee Products; if we do not have something you need, contact us anyway. We might be able to get it for you.