More from: truck driver

Why Vehicle Inspectors Practice What They Do

Truck drivers across North America were subject to the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Roadcheck inspections back in June (2018). You know exactly what we are talking about if you drive a truck for a living. But did you know that inspectors actually practice what they do? They do it to be better at what they do, though some practice in order to compete.

There’s a lot more that goes into truck inspections than meets the eye. In terms of cargo control, truck drivers are all-too-familiar with inspectors checking everything from the number of tie-downs to the actual physical condition of webbing straps and chains. They check hooks, winches, anchor points, bungee straps, and even whether truck tarps are secured well enough to keep them in place.

Inspectors also check the physical condition of the trucks they are looking at. They check everything from tires to breaks and operating lights. And of course, don’t forget hours of service rules and the new ELD mandate. They are looking for anything that could pose a danger on the road – no matter how minor.

Training to Compete

A large number of truck inspectors gathered in Columbus, Ohio this past summer to participate in the CVSA’s North American Inspectors Championship. According to news reports, there were more than four dozen inspectors representing the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, all competing by way of a written test and hands-on demonstrations.

They were competing alongside truckers involved in the National Truck Driving Championships. While truckers were practicing everything from cargo control to turning and backing, inspectors were practicing all the steps that go into doing what they do. When it was time for the competition to commence, both drivers and inspectors hoped to be at the tops of their game.

A truck driver uses chains and straps to securely tie down a load. Drivers practice load tie-down in order to increase their efficiency in the real world of work. The more efficient they are at cargo control, the more time they have to keep the wheels rolling. It is just common sense.

Inspectors are in a similar situation. They practice the skills necessary to conduct complete inspections that are simultaneously efficient. The more trucks they can get in and out of inspection stations, the more they can look at in a given day. This keeps the trucks moving and the roads safe.

Knowing the Regulations and Physics

For both trucker and inspector, the key to success is knowing the regulations and physics of cargo control. Federal law, at least in the U.S. and Canada, is very specific in detailing how truck drivers are supposed to secure cargo to their trailers. One look at the FMCSA’s trucker handbook says it all.

Truckers need to be familiar with the rules so that they maintain compliance. They also need to be familiar with physics. Why? So that they can deploy their cargo control materials in the right way. No webbing strap or chain will do its job if it is not deployed properly.

As for inspectors, they need to have that same knowledge of regulations and physics. It is their job to make sure truckers are complying. If they don’t know what’s going on, they cannot possibly do their jobs.

Truck drivers, you now know that those inspectors you deal with all the time practice what they do. They not only practice to compete, but also to make sure they always operate at the highest possible level. It’s probably not a good idea to put them to the test. They know what they’re doing.

 


Cab Rack or Headache Rack: Does the Name Really Matter?

Truck drivers who come to the Mytee Products website looking for a shiny metal rack to mount to the backs of their cabs will find what they’re looking for under the ‘headache racks’ section of our website. Yes, we call them headache racks. Others call them cab racks. Does the name really matter? That depends on who you ask.

No one really knows how the headache rack got its name. We can only surmise that the name comes from the rack’s ability to protect a driver from cargo that shifts forward during transit. But that’s assuming the headache rack name first applied to the racks on 18 wheelers. But maybe that is not the case.

At any rate, the point is that we all know what headache racks do regardless of what they are called. The name is only important if you draw a distinction between pickup truck and 18-wheeler models. Some people do see a difference.

Big Rigs vs. Pickup Trucks

Say the word ‘truck’ among a group of people and those around you will not necessarily know if you are talking about a big rig or a pickup. The word is rather generic. As such, differences between trucks have given rise to different opinions about headache racks and cab racks.

For those who see a difference, the headache rack applies to a pickup truck while a cab rack applies to a big rig. Why? Once again, no one knows for sure. One possible explanation is that manufacturers of aftermarket parts for pickup trucks have co-opted the headache rack term. Not wishing to be associated with pickup trucks, manufacturers of big rig racks have settled on the cab rack name.

Let us assume such a distinction is worth maintaining. That would suggest a significant difference in the two kinds of racks. A headache rack made for a pickup truck is going to be much smaller – and that is just for starters. It is also not going to be capable of withstanding as much force. You wouldn’t expect it to, given the comparably light loads pickup trucks carry.

On the other hand, a cab rack on the back of an 18-wheeler is going to be a lot bigger and stronger. It has to be able to withstand the force of thousands of pounds of cargo being slammed against it. But there is another difference too: a big rig’s cab rack also has to offer some storage functionality as well.

A Place for Those Chains and Straps

Tractor trailers are limited in terms of their total allowable weight. So if you’re adding a headache rack to the back of your Peterbilt, for example, you have to account for the weight of the rack when calculating the total weight of the rig. You want to keep the weight as low as possible in order to maximize the amount of cargo you can carry. As such, you expect your headache rack to do dual duty.

There are some tractor-trailer racks that are nothing more than steel plates with a couple of hooks for hanging chains and straps. But there are others with built-in storage space for everything from chains and straps to ratchets and winches. Some have storage compartments large enough to accommodate truck tarps. You will not find that kind of storage in a pickup truck model.

In the end, the name doesn’t really matter as long as you get what you need. Mytee Products has what you are looking for. We invite you to browse our selection of headache racks and toolboxes.


How to Fit Truck Tarps Perfectly

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.


Tips for Buying Headache Racks Online

Mytee Products is thrilled to be able to offer our customers a range of heavy-duty headache racks that offer both protection and extra storage options. Customers can purchase our headache racks in person, at our Ohio headquarters, or online. We make both options available because we understand that truck drivers need flexibility.

Perhaps you are thinking about a new headache rack for your truck. If so, we invite you to stop by and see us in Aurora next time you’re passing through Northeast Ohio. If you can’t get to our warehouse, you can still order what you need online. We have a great selection.

Buying a headache rack online does come with a few risks. Therefore, we want you to be smart about your purchase. Below are some tips you should find helpful. If you are not planning to buy from Mytee Products, we urge you to be extra cautious. It would be a shame to invest a lot of money in a headache rack only to find that what you purchased doesn’t suit your needs.

Measure Twice, Then Measure Again

The construction trades have a saying: “measure twice, cut once.” The point of the saying is to remind tradesmen to be absolutely sure about their measurements before they begin cutting materials. Otherwise, improper measurements can lead to all sorts of problems, including waste and poor fits.

There is a similar principle when it comes to headache racks. Although headache racks tend to be universal for the most part, your rig might be an exception to the rule. Perhaps you already have other pieces of equipment affixed to the back of your truck that could get in the way of a new rack. Or maybe you want your headache rack positioned a certain way. Here’s the deal: measure twice, then measure a third time – just for good measure, so to speak. Know exactly what you need before you place your order.

Choose a Trusted Brand

Brand means a lot in the trucking business. As such, your choice of headache rack should come from a brand you know and trust. The best brands generally offer the best quality and performance over the long run. And yes, the best brands cost a little bit more. But this is one area in which getting what you pay for is important.

Remember that your choice of headache rack could end up being a lifesaver at some point down the road. You can buy cheap, but then you might also be risking life and limb as a result. Just be willing to spend whatever it takes to give you the level of protection you are after.

Avoid Buying Used

You might be tempted to save a little money by purchasing a used headache rack from an online classified site for one of the popular auction sites. We won’t disagree that buying used can be a big money saver. But there are risks that come with doing so. First and foremost, you never know what you’re getting if you don’t have an opportunity to inspect the product first.

Another risk that comes with buying used is not being able to return the headache rack that’s damaged, malfunctioning, or just doesn’t fit your rig. Is that a risk you are willing to take to save a few bucks? Buying used is entirely up to you, but it’s not something we recommend.

A headache rack is an important piece of safety equipment every tractor should be equipped with. If you are in the market for a new one, please take a few moments to check out our inventory.


Installing Headache Racks and Bulkheads: A Smart Move

Every now and then if you look up an online trucker forums, you will come across questions from new flatbed drivers asking whether headache racks and bulkheads are required by law. The questions are reasonable given the rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate cargo control. Thankfully, the questions are easy to answer.

Headache racks and bulkheads are not required by federal regulations. However, using them is still smart as it protects cargo and prevents damage. If a truck owner has the opportunity to install one or both without causing major inconvenience or financial stress, it would not make sense to decline said opportunity.

What the Law Says

A quick perusal of the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook makes it clear that truck drivers are required by law to make sure cargo is properly secured. This includes doing whatever is necessary to prevent forward movement. In a flatbed situation, that means making sure that either tie-downs or some sort of barrier is in place to prevent cargo from moving forward on the trailer.

The handbook includes numerous illustrations along with hard numbers demonstrating what the law requires. It shows the difference between preventing forward movement with a bulkhead and doing it just with tiedown straps instead. The important thing to know is that the law requires a certain number of tie-downs, based on the length and weight of the cargo, if no bulkhead or headache rack is in place.

Drivers also have to pay attention to the working load limits (WLLs) of their tiedown straps. These limits are part of the calculation necessary to determine the number of tie-downs necessary to prevent forward movement of cargo. Too few tie-downs equal a violation.

Meeting the Demands of Customers

Although federal law does not mandate the use of headache racks or bulkheads, there are some shippers who are particular about their usage. Two good examples are rail and pipe loads. A shipper may insist that an owner-operator utilize a bulkhead just for an extra measure of safety.

Such requests do not seem unreasonable for certain kinds of cargo. A contained, rectangular load is fairly easy to secure against forward movement with straps over the top and around the front. But it is not so easy for a load of pipe. And whether or not a truck driver agrees, shippers insisting on bulkheads are not going to release a load until they are confident it will be secure during transport.

From our perspective, insisting on a bulkhead or headache rack for certain kinds of loads is no different than shippers insisting that tarps be used. Their main priority is to protect cargo and limit liability. Preventing forward movement via a bulkhead or headache rack may be the best way to do it in their eyes.

Buy What You Need from Mytee Products

Given the federal mandates for securing cargo and the fact that some shippers insist on bulkheads or headache racks, it just makes sense to install one or both on your equipment. You will be pleased to know that Mytee Products has everything you need. We carry both headache racks and bulkheads, along with the appropriate mounting systems.

Headache racks and bulkheads may not be required by law, but it’s still smart to use them. Both prevent forward movement of cargo and protect you as the driver. Both represent an affordable way to protect yourself as well as your investment in your equipment. After all, it doesn’t take much to cause a big problem. Just a little bit of forward movement could cause you a big headache you don’t really want.