You see a lot of interesting things traveling down the interstate. For example, flatbed trailers carrying all kinds of loads are commonplace. Some of those trailers looked to be carrying pretty impressive cargo, though you might never know what it is hidden under all those tarps. That leads to the following question: how do truck drivers get those tarps fitted so tight?
Covering a load with truck tarps is not as easy as it sounds. Anyone can throw a couple of tarps over the top of a load and secure them with bungee straps, but that does not mean the cargo underneath is safe from all that could potentially harm it. That’s why truck drivers go to such great lengths to guarantee their tarps are tightly secured. They do not want their tarps flapping in the breeze at 60 mph.
So, how do they do it? It is a combination of a number of things.
1. Years of Experience
First and foremost, there is no substitute for experience. Every truck driver learns on the job regardless of how much training he or she received in CDL school. Simply put, learning the best ways to deploy truck tarps for any given load is a matter of book knowledge, time, and plenty of time actually doing it.
Imagine hauling an oddly shaped load consisting of industrial machinery and supplies. You might get it wrong the first time out, failing to get your tarps tight and secure. Rest assured you would hear about it on delivery. Whatever mistakes you made that first time are unlikely to be repeated the next time. You will find a better way to do it on the next run. Load after load, you’ll get better at tarping.
2. Daily Observations
The laws of physics are a wonderful thing in that they can be learned through simple observation. A truck driver may not have taken high school or college physics prior to beginning his or her career but watching how loads and tarps respond during travel can make any truck driver a physics expert in no time at all.
Truck drivers with the best tarping skills are the same drivers who pay attention to the smallest of details. They pay close attention to how each load is tarped and then, during transport, how the load and its tarps respond. They pay attention to tarp movement at highway speeds; they pay attention to how tarps handle bad weather; they pay attention to how temperature extremes affect their tarps.
3. Advice from Others
Finally, the smart truck driver doesn’t turn away any advice offered by others. No trucker lives on an island, and no trucker knows everything about tarping. So receiving and offering sound advice is in the truck driver’s best interests. Drivers get advice from other truckers, from shippers, and even from police officers and DOT inspectors.
Imagine being at a roadside inspection when a state trooper notices one of your tarps isn’t as tight as it could be. If that trooper offers a word of advice based on his past observations, how would you respond? Smart truckers take the advice for what it is. If it is usable, great. If not, it is dismissed. No harm, no foul.
Next time you drive down the interstate and see a flatbed trailer with a tightly tarped load, don’t assume that the deploying of the tarps was an easy task. Truck drivers put a lot of work into securing their loads prior to departure. If you observe an exceptionally good tarping job, be confident that driver knows what he or she is doing.