5 Cargo Lessons Car Drivers Could Learn from Truckers

A truck driver is not just a person capable of navigating a big rig under a variety of traffic and weather conditions. He or she is also an expert in making sure cargo stays put. Thanks to very strict federal and state laws, truck drivers are held to high standards when it comes to cargo control.

Actually, so are car drivers. They may not know it, but the same state laws that require commercial vehicles to securely transport cargo also apply to car and pickup truck drivers. In the simplest terms possible, you are required to properly secure cargo no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. Nothing can be allowed to fall off your vehicle during transport.

With that in mind, here are five cargo control lessons car drivers can learn from truckers:

1. Tarps Make Great Tools

Flatbed truck drivers use tarps to cover their loads. They are covered not to keep them from moving – that’s the job of tie-downs and blocks – but to protect them from the weather, road debris, etc. Dump trucks are different. They are covered with tarps to prevent loose material from flying onto the roadway.

Car drivers could learn a lesson here: tarps make great tools. Let’s say you are hauling a load of stone back from the hardware store. Your trailer should be covered with a tarp. Otherwise, loose stone can kick up and easily become airborne.

2. Loading Makes a Difference

Next up, truck drivers do not allow their trailers to be loaded haphazardly. There is a method to how every piece of cargo is loaded. Load strategy affects everything from weight distribution to cargo control. In terms of the latter, that’s why you see most flatbed loads secured in what appears to be an orderly fashion. Contrast that to pickup trucks and small utility trailers that seem like they were loaded randomly or with very little thought. Random loading is a recipe for disaster.

3. One Strap Isn’t Good Enough

Have you ever seen a car moving down the expressway with a mattress strapped to the top and a single rope over the roof? Both driver and passenger have a hand out of the window in an attempt to keep the mattress from blowing away. Guess what? A single strap or piece of rope isn’t enough.

Truck drivers use multiple straps depending on the weight of the load they are carrying. They follow federal regulations that define just how many straps are necessary. As for car drivers, it’s best to look at it this way: you can never have too many straps.

4. Anything Can Move

Regulations require truck drivers to secure anything on their trailers that could possibly move. So it’s not just cargo we are talking about. If a flatbed has space for a hand truck, for example, that hand truck must be secured in place. The reason here is as simple as the fact that anything can move. The laws of physics do not discriminate.

5. Shifting Cargo Can Be Dangerous

Truck drivers are trained from day one to understand just how dangerous shifting cargo can be. Imagine following behind a flatbed when a piece of cargo breaks off and falls onto the roof of your car. Dangerous, right? Yes, indeed. But any piece of cargo flying off any vehicle can be dangerous. Something as seemingly innocuous as a piece of trash flying out of a pickup bed can cause an accident.

Cargo control is a legal obligation of every driver on the roads. It is not just limited to commercial truck drivers.


3 Ways Cargo Control is A Lot Like Planning Loads

Owner-operators have one of the toughest jobs in trucking. Not only are they hauling loads from coast-to-coast, they are also responsible for every other aspect of their businesses. They handle bookkeeping, taxes, and even contacting brokers and shippers to obtain loads.

Making it as an owner-operator is not easy. Over the years we have talked to many of them about their secrets to success. What we consistently hear about is planning loads. How a trucker goes about load planning partly determines his or her overall success.

We got to thinking about load planning and realized that it shares quite a few similarities with good cargo control. Maybe that’s why owner-operators with good load planning skills tend to be equally skilled at tying down and securing their cargo. Be that as it may, below are three ways that cargo control is a lot like load planning.

1. Thinking Ahead is a Big Plus

The most successful owner-operators are always planning a load ahead. They do not wait until they drop their current load to start thinking about where to find the next one. Planning ahead keeps the wheels turning and the money coming in. It also gives truck drivers an edge in that, with a little bit of knowledge, they can stay a step ahead of brokers who aren’t necessarily prepared to pay the best rates to drivers who are more haphazard in their planning.

Cargo control requires thinking ahead as well. Winter is long gone right now, but it will be back before you know it. How many truck drivers start thinking about chains, tarps, and other winter equipment needs during the summer? Obtaining what you need before the snow starts flying is the best way to guarantee you won’t be caught without it.

2. Knowing Where You’re Going Helps

Next up, a good owner-operator knows and understands the market he/she is heading to. Let’s say he/she is hauling a load from the Midwest distribution center to a large retailer in the Northeast. What freight lanes are hot right now? What can he/she pick up at the destination that puts him/her in the best position to get into one of those lanes?

Knowing where you’re going makes for better load planning. It also makes for better cargo control. If a driver knows what to expect from traffic, weather, etc. at the destination to which he/she is traveling, he/she also has a better idea of what will be necessary to secure and protect the next load being picked up.

3. Less Favorable Loads Are Sometimes Necessary

It stands to reason that an owner-operator would always want those loads offering above average rates. That’s reasonable. With some hard work and the right skills, it’s also quite possible to get above average rates most of the time. But there are still times when an owner-operator has to take a less profitable load. Sometimes it is better to keep the wheels rolling at a lower rate than remaining idle while you look for a higher rate.

Likewise, flatbed truckers look for the loads that are going to be as easy as possible to secure and transport. The less time and effort spent on cargo control, the more time a driver has to actually drive. Yet there are times when less favorable loads are necessary.

It turns out that load planning and cargo control have a lot of similarities. Whether you are an owner-operator or an employed driver, how much time and effort do you put into both? The best of the best do whatever is necessary to get the job done.


A Couple of Quick Reminders About Electrified Fencing

With summer now fully underway, ranchers and farmers will be out mending fences to keep cattle in and critters out. Electrified fencing is an alternative to barbed wire and something we carry at Mytee Products. You can find fencing wire, tape, braid, and energizers here.

We recommend you install electrified fencing with the help of a professional, unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing.Then we recommend you pay attention to all safety measures, when installing your fence. To that end, we have put together a couple of reminders for people who are new to this type of fencing. We have written on these topics in the past, but a refresher every now and again is always a good idea.

Follow Installation Instructions

Even though electrified fencing is low voltage by comparison, you are still dealing with electricity. As such, you can put yourself and your animals in danger with an improper instruction. Always follow instructions to the letter when you are installing or repairing fencing.

Electrified fencing needs to be properly grounded. Energizers need to be matched with fencing configuration and power supply. Even the slightest mistake can lead to serious problems. At least one of the wildfires that burned last summer in California started when an electrified fence malfunctioned. So yes, it is that important.

Animals Need to Be Trained

If you are installing electrified fencing for the first time, you should know that animals need to be trained to stay away from it. But that is not a bad thing. It’s actually good because, once trained, your cattle won’t go near the fence.

A common way to train cattle is to set up a temporary fence that animals can walk around. You put the cattle on one side and a food source on the other. If one of your cattle attempts to go through the fence, it will receive a slight electrical shock designed to repel any advance. It only takes a couple of shocks before the animal realizes it is better to walk around the fence.

It Need Not Be As Robust

Electrified fencing does not need to be nearly as robust as barbed wire fencing. There are two reasons for this, the first of which is the fact that cattle can be trained. A properly trained heard will not go anywhere near an electrified fence, so you don’t have to worry about cattle breaking through.

Another advantage here is that you do not have to pull electrified fencing wire as tight as barbed wire. Therefore you don’t need as many posts. This makes for easier installation and a lower overall price. Electrified fencing is also easier to repair because of its less robust design

Power is Always an Issue

How you power an electrified fence depends on where it is located. We sell energizers that plug directly into standard sockets. They are used for fenced areas located in close proximity to outbuildings. Out in the field where power sources might not be available, you can use solar energizers.

Some of our customers use a combination both to guarantee minimal down time during power outages. The plugin unit is the main energizer. In the event of an outage, they just disconnect that energizer and connect the solar energizer installed right next to it.

Summer is fence season for farmers and ranchers. We invite you to take a look at our electrified fencing supplies as you plan for your build or repair project. Whatever you do, please follow all best practices and ensure that your installation is done according to the instructions printed on packaging materials.


The Roadcheck is Over – Now What?

By the time you read this post, the 2019 CVSA Roadcheck will be in the record books. Trucks throughout North America will have been inspected by CVSA, federal, and state police officials in an attempt to remind drivers of their responsibilities toward road safety. We will not know until later this year how well the industry did when compared to 2018. But now that the Roadcheck is over for another year, what’s next?

As important as the annual Roadcheck is, there is a hidden danger to doing it every year: complacency. Every year we see blog posts, news articles, and even training seminars in the months leading up to the event. These are all very good things. However, all the attention paid to road safety during those months seems to suddenly disappear at the end of June.

Cargo Control Year-Round

Experienced truck drivers know that the emphasis of the Roadcheck changes every year. In 2018, inspectors focused heavily on electronic logging. The big emphasis this year is steering and suspension. However, inspectors are not limited to the Roadcheck’s annual focus. They still give trucks and drivers a thorough review in every respect.

Given that Mytee Products specializes in cargo control, that is what we tend to put our efforts into when we educate drivers. That’s where we go from here. In other words, we will continue educating truck drivers and motor carriers about proper cargo control even though Roadcheck 2019 is now in the rear-view mirror.

Proper cargo control is a year-round enterprise. It does not begin and end with the CVSA’s Roadcheck. In fact, we believe giving the proper amount of attention to cargo control eliminates the need to be extra diligent during the first week of June. If a truck driver is diligent about cargo control throughout the entire year, the week of the annual Roadcheck will not be anything unusual.

Know Your Equipment

If you are a truck driver, your first task moving forward is to know your equipment. Understand exactly what kinds of equipment you need to properly secure your loads. Educate yourself about things like working load limits, lateral and horizontal movement, federal cargo control rules, and so forth.

Also make a point of regularly inspecting your equipment to make sure it is in good working condition. It only takes one frayed webbing strap or a rusting chain to create a precarious situation. Check everything from your ratchets to your hooks and turnbuckles.

When something does show that first sign of wear, do not play games. Either get it repaired or replace it. The last thing a truck driver needs is to be caught off guard with a piece of broken equipment and no replacement. And should that one piece of equipment lead to an accident, dire consequences could follow.

Fully Stock Your Truck

The approach of summer means weather that is a lot less threatening to truck cargo. This is the time of year when you are not worrying as much about heavy winds and the damage ice and snow can cause. So this is also an appropriate time of year to check your inventory. Summer is the ideal time to fully stock your truck with tarps, straps, chains, edge protectors, and so forth.

Hopefully the numbers will look good when the CVSA releases them later this year. Hopefully, America’s truck drivers did better in 2019 than they did in 2018. Let us all work together to do even better in 2020. The more we can do to improve safety within the trucking industry, the safer all of our highways will be.


3 Reasons Aluminum is a Great Choice for Truck Toolboxes

Mytee Products carries a range of aluminum toolboxes for both tractors and trailers. Aluminum is the material of choice for a lot of truckers as it has a number of benefits over steel. This is not to say that a stainless-steel toolbox is a bad investment. It’s not. In fact, a shiny stainless-steel toolbox can be key to winning a truck show. But for everyday use over the road, it is hard to beat aluminum.

Note that we carry both aluminum and steel toolboxes and headache racks. If you ever have questions about any of our products, please do not hesitate to contact us. We want you to be happy with anything you decide to purchase from Mytee Products.

1. Aluminum Has Malleability

Steel is definitely stronger than aluminum, which is why some truck drivers prefer the material for their toolboxes and headache racks. But aluminum has an advantage in that it is more malleable. In other words, it is more flexible than steel. It absorbs energy more effectively too.

How is this an advantage? In an accident, aluminum it is more likely to flex and bend than steel. This means it is less likely to break apart. You will also find it easier to bang out any dents after the accident. As for steel, it is more likely to crack or break at the seams. If a steel toolbox is dented, it is a lot harder to get those dents out.

As a side note, the malleability of aluminum makes it easier for fabricators to create toolboxes with unique shapes. Simply put, aluminum is easier to work with. You may find aluminum is a better choice if you need a custom toolbox with a nonuniform shape or size.

2. Aluminum is Lighter

Another advantage of aluminum is that it is lighter than steel. The difference in weight between the two metals may not be significant in terms of how much your truck can carry, but it might become important if you are trying to save every ounce so that you can carry heavier loads. Steel is heavier as well as being almost 2.5 times more dense.

If you are interested in raw numbers, a cubic foot of aluminum weighs in at just over 168 pounds. That same amount of stainless-steel weighs in at just over 494 pounds. That is more than twice the weight. When you are trying to keep the weight on your trailer down, choosing aluminum over steel for toolboxes could make an enormous difference.

3. Aluminum Will Not Rust

Aluminum’s biggest advantage as a toolbox material is the fact that it will not rust. Steel is corrosion resistant when treated, but it is still going to rust over time. That’s one of the reasons truckers who love stainless steel bumpers, headache racks, and toolboxes spend so much time caring for them.

A curious thing about aluminum is that it naturally oxidizes in open air. The oxidation process causes a slight film to build up over the surface of the metal. That film actually prevents rust. It is the same film that protects the bottom of aluminum canoes and rowboats. It is the same film that prevents a house covered in aluminum from rusting.

As previously stated, some of our customers prefer steel toolboxes and headache racks. That’s great. But if you prefer aluminum, we have a good selection of products for you to choose from. Aluminum is an ideal choice for truck toolboxes because it is malleable, it is lighter than steel, and it absolutely will not rust.