More from: tarping systems

Tarps and Straps: Above or Below?

One of the questions we frequently hear from new flatbed truckers is whether to strap a load above the tarp or not. This question arises from the fact that new truckers see their veteran counterparts do it both ways. Some like their straps above the tarps; others like them below. But it is truly a preference thing. There is no single way to use flatbed tarps and strap systems as long as the load is protected and the tarps and straps survive the trip undamaged.

What new drivers should understand is why veterans choose one set up over the other. They also need to know that the same driver may use different setups depending on the load being transported. It is like choosing between Kelley and Triangle truck and trailer tires – drivers make their cargo control choices depending on the loads they typically carry.

tarps and straps

Straps Applied Above Tarps

There are two primary reasons you may see truckers apply their straps over the top rather than underneath their tarps. The first is to prevent the tarps from ballooning in the wind. In such a case, the load itself has already been secured underneath with either chains or additional mesh straps. The tarp has been applied only to protect the cargo from wind and road debris. This set up makes it easy to apply flatbed tarps with very little fuss while using straps to prevent ballooning.

The second reason for strapping over the top of the tarp is to secure a soft load and preventing ballooning at the same time. A good example would be transporting crates of vegetables from a farm to the processor. Such a load is unlikely to be traveling hundreds of miles, so the driver is not worried about securing both the load and the tarps separately. He or she will just throw the flatbed tarp over the load, followed by securing each stack of crates – and the tarp at the same time – with a strap.

Straps Applied Under Tarps

Likewise, there are several reasons for applying straps underneath flatbed tarps. The first is to make sure maximum load securement is achieved. Sometimes a trucker will carry a load that does not conform well to tarping, so placing straps above the tarp would not provide the best securement. By strapping underneath, where straps come in direct contact with the load itself, the cargo can be made more secure. A tarp goes on top, secured at the corner and along the sides with bungee cords.

Drivers may also choose to apply straps underneath in order to avoid loose corners flapping in the wind. They use the same setup as described above. Flatbed tarps are placed over the already secured load and held in place with bungee cords. Along the same lines, this setup is also preferred among drivers who do not like the visual presentation of exterior straps.

Lastly, there are cases in which the driver really has no choice. Drywall is a great example. Most drywall shippers tarp their loads in the shipping yard so that there is never a question about the drywall being protected. All the driver has to do is to secure the load to the trailer and pull away.

Regardless of how you decide to use your tarps and straps, Mytee Products has a full selection of both. We also carry a full line of cargo securement supplies, tires (including 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 truck tires), tarping systems and accessories, portable carports and storage structures and, of course, a full line of steel, lumber, hay, and mesh tarps. If you need it, we have it.

Dump Truck Tarps a Good Idea Even When Not Required

Nothing is worse for a car driver then to be following behind a dump truck only to become a victim of a piece of gravel or stone flying off the top. Even such small projectiles can shatter windshields at high speeds. As a dump truck operator, the best way to prevent your load from damaging other vehicles is to cover it with a tarp.

Why would a driver not cover a dump truck load with a tarp? Some may choose not to tarp because they do not want to put the extra money into it. Others don’t want to take the time to secure the tarp before hitting the road. However, not tarping a dump truck load puts other drivers at risk. Moreover, in so doing, the driver is putting him or herself and/or their company at risk of liability. The risk is not worth taking. Dump truck tarps offer a lot of protection compared to the investment of money and time they require.


Different State Laws

A big question with dump truck tarps relates to individual state laws. Some states require all dump truck loads to be tarped prior to transport. Others, such as Wisconsin for example, do not. Nevertheless, even states that don’t require tarping do require loads to be secure throughout transport. Wisconsin Statute 348.10 (2) specifically says:

“No person shall operate a vehicle on a highway unless such vehicle is so constructed and loaded as to prevent its contents from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping therefrom.”

A Wisconsin law enforcement officer witnessing a violation can issue a ticket that could result in several hundred dollars in penalties. The vehicle could also be taken out of service until the load is properly secured. Even just one hour lost could mean a substantial financial loss in addition to any fines that have to be paid.

Liability Questions

The other obvious issue with dump trucks and tarps is one of liability. Although such accidents are rare, it is entirely possible for debris coming loose from a dump truck load to cause an accident resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. Does the trucking company really want to face the liability of such accidents in exchange for not spending a little bit of money on dump truck tarps? Probably not. Tarps and tarping systems are fairly inexpensive when compared to the types of damages normally awarded in liability cases.

Easy to Use

From a driver’s perspective, there really is no viable reason not to use dump truck tarps. They are incredibly easy to apply as compared to their flatbed counterparts. The advantage here is that dump trucks are basically large containers on wheels used to carry loose materials. All that is needed is a single tarp to cover the top of the container.

To make tarping as easy as possible, the modern dump truck is fitted with a steel or aluminum frame and roll system that makes tarping almost completely effortless. Sometimes the system is operated manually, other times it can be connected to an electric motor. The driver simply moves the tarp frame back on its pivot point while the tarp unrolls automatically across the top of the load. Lock the frame in place and the job is done. Retracting the tarp is equally easy. Move the frame forward and tarp will roll up on its own.

If you operate a dump truck, remember that dump truck tarps are a good idea even if the law does not require them. Protect yourself and other drivers on the road by investing in a high-quality tarping system.