More from: truck drivers

A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.


6 Important Things to Know about Tire Chains

Do you routinely drive in regions requiring snow chains during the winter? If so, you know all about what it means to chain up before heading into bad weather. If you are new to trucking or winter driving, tire chains may be foreign to you. One thing is for sure in either case: chains can cause a lot of problems if you don’t know how to use them.

Mytee Products carries tire chains for both 22.5-inch in 24.5-inch tire chains. We invite you to purchase your chains through us, along with all your cargo control supplies including tarps, bungee straps, ratchet straps, and edge protectors.

In the interests of advancing public safety, we have compiled a list of six important things to know about tire chains. Know and understand these things, whether you are a veteran or a rookie.

1. Keep to a Safe Speed

Tire chains are only intended to withstand a certain amount of punishment. Drivers should never exceed speeds of 30 mph when chained. Going any faster could cause chains to break while in motion. This could be dangerous for driver and vehicle alike.

2. Avoid Bare Pavement

Tire chains do not hold up well against bare pavement either. So while there may be some instances when it’s necessary to drive short distances on bare pavement, the practice should be avoided as much as possible. As soon as a driver gets through the area of snow-covered roads, he or she should find a place to pull off and remove the chains.

3. Chains Slip on Pavement

Something else to note about chains is they tend to slip on bare pavement. If a driver is braking on bare pavement while still chained up, he/she has to be more gentle in the process. It is very easy to lock up the wheels and slide on chains. On the other end, hitting the gas too aggressively could cause the drive wheels to spin on bare pavement. Drivers should accelerate slowly.

4. Routine Inspections Are Necessary

Truckers will naturally tighten their chains when first deploying them. However, it is generally recommended that chains be inspected and re-tightened at regular intervals. Chains will loosen as the miles roll by, making them subject to breakage.

5. Chained Tighteners Can Cause Problems

Chain tightening devices have a tendency to pull chains off-center if they are not used the right way. A driver who is not intimately familiar with how to use such a device should avoid doing so. There are other ways to effectively tighten chains.

6. State Regulations

Nearly every state in the union has some sort of regulations in place pertaining to tire chains. Truck drivers should make themselves familiar with those regulations in any states where they plan to work during the winter months. Running afoul of the regulations could result in a citation.

Along those same lines, there are a few key regions in the U.S. were chains are mandatory during the winter. In some of these regions truckers will find chains at highway department chain banks. A word to the wise though: drivers should not rely solely on chain banks to meet their needs. If no chains are available when a driver reaches the start of a mandatory chain area, he or she will have to wait until a set is available.

Tire chains are part of winter driving for truck drivers. Hopefully you have had some experience chaining up your truck. If not, you will probably have to learn eventually. Just remember that chaining up is not the end of the world. You will get pretty good at it with enough practice.


Cargo Control – Important for Every Trailer and Load

Cargo control is what we stress here at Mytee Products. What began as a small, local company specializing in truck tarps and straps has grown into a retail operation with a national reach. Not only do we still carry truck tarps and straps but we also carry just about every piece of cargo control equipment an American truck driver could possibly need. That includes load bars and e-track. We do what we do because cargo control should be a part of every trailer and every load.

Experienced truck drivers know that cargo control is not just a flatbed issue. Even dry goods vans and reefer trailers cannot be operated safely if the cargo within is not properly secured.

Shifting Cargo Is Dangerous

Police reports say a tractor-trailer hauling 40,000 pounds of liquid on 17 pallets turned on its side in the early morning hours of September 22. Apparently, the driver failed to properly secure the pallets. They shifted as he drove down U.S. 70, causing the trailer to tip on its side. The driver was not injured, but the truck was heavily damaged and the entire load of liquid was lost.

The biggest lesson to be learned here is that shifting cargo is dangerous. Truck drivers are well aware of the dynamics of shifting cargo when it comes to loads on flatbed trailers. They know all about using blocks, chains, straps, and winches to secure things tightly in place. They know about working load limits and how to properly distribute weight across the trailer.

Unfortunately, what is taken for granted with flatbed trailers is often ignored for dry vans and reefer trailers. Yet as the above stated crash demonstrated, shifting cargo can be just as dangerous when goods are enclosed. Cargo has to be kept in place at all times, otherwise disaster is just one shift away from striking.

Cargo Control Experts

One of things we stress here at Mytee Products is our belief that truck drivers should be cargo control experts. Yes, there are engineers who work out working load limits, tensile strength, and the other calculations necessary to properly rate things like chains and straps. But it is U.S truck drivers who apply those chains and straps in a real-world setting. They need to be the experts in how it all works.

Whether a driver is securing pipe to a flatbed trailer or filling a dry goods van with pallets of liquid, a basic understanding of physics comes into play.

The energy stored in cargo as a truck is moving – known as kinetic energy – will force that cargo to continue moving in the same direction unless something prevents it from doing so. Cargo control principles are designed around doing just that.

A truck driver should know that unsecured cargo in a dry goods van is likely to shift as a trailer turns. Kinetic energy forces it. Therefore, load bars should be put in place to prevent dangerous shifts. If there is empty space between cargo and the sidewalls of the trailer, either that space has to be filled or the cargo needs to be secured with straps to prevent it from moving.

It is fortunate that the North Carolina accident did not result in injuries or death. It is equally unfortunate that failing to secure cargo resulted in financial losses for both the trucking company and the shipper. The accident provides all the evidence truck drivers need to understand just how important cargo control is.

Sources:

UPI – https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2017/09/22/Truck-overturns-in-North-Carolina-loses-44000-pounds-of-vodka/3431506101215/


Canvas Tarps: To Treat or Not to Treat

One of the main advantages of canvas tarps is that they are made with natural fibers tightly woven together to create a strong, breathable material suitable for a variety of uses. Truckers sometimes use canvas tarps for certain kinds of loads that demand breathable tarp protection.

The question for truck drivers purchasing new canvas tarps is whether to get treated or untreated material. Canvas is an excellent material for truck tarps by itself, but manufacturers do offer tarps that have been treated for water resistance, UV protection, and even fire retardation. So, which is better; treated or untreated canvas?

There is no right or wrong answer here. Both materials have their strong and weak points. For the trucker, it is a matter of understanding those points and then determining which choice is better most of the time. Some truckers carry tarps of both types in order to be prepared for anything.

Water Resistance
Untreated canvas is naturally water resistant thanks to the extremely tight weave of the fibers. But water resistance does not mean waterproof. Treating canvas for water resistance also does not make it waterproof. Rather, the chemical treatment is a wax-like material that causes water to bead up and roll off rather easily. A canvas tarp treated for water resistance is less likely to allow water to pool.
On the positive side, a water-resistant treatment also reduces the risk of mold and mildew. As long as a treated tarp is properly dried before being folded and stored away, mold and mildew should never be a problem. On the downside, treated canvas is somewhat less breathable. If breathability is a concern, untreated canvas may be a better option.

Fire Retardation
It would be unusual to find a canvas tarp treated for fire retardation but not water and UV resistance. This dictates that fire retardation involves an extra treatment above and beyond a water-resistant coating. This extra protection is probably not needed except in cases where a canvas tarp may be accidentally exposed to open flame or sparks.

UV Resistance
The third kind of treatment also applied to canvas tarps is an anti-UV treatment. Because canvas is made of natural fibers, it is subject to break down as a result of UV exposure. Natural UV breakdown can lead to rot if a canvas material is also exposed to mold and mildew.

The reality is that all canvas materials break down over time. It is unavoidable for natural materials. But treating canvas for both water and UV resistance slows down the process of wear and tear. A properly treated material is less likely to fall victim to rot. In addition, retreating canvas every few years can extend its life.

Treating Tarps Yourself
The truck driver who has chosen treated canvas tarps would do well to apply a new treatment on a regular schedule, according to the manufacturers recommendations. A premium finish coat product specifically designed for canvas is the best option. Finishing products can be found at boating and RV centers, trucking supply centers, and even sporting goods outlets that carry canvas tarps and tents.

Our selection of canvas tarps is limited to just two. Furthermore, both products have been treated for water resistance. Our canvas tarps are very good general-purpose tarps that you could use for a variety of purposes. Canvas is an excellent choice for fruit and vegetable loads, exterior building products, highly sensitive machinery, and virtually any other kind of cargo that requires breathable tarp.

To treat or not to treat? That’s entirely up to you. Either way, canvas is great tarp material.


Tires and Tire Chains: Time to Get Ready for Winter

The beginning of the football season means something outside the sporting world – that winter is just around the corner! In some places like Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and northern California, the snow will not even wait until the official start of winter in December. Truckers need to begin planning for winter driving now. Those plans include key components – tires and tire chains.

Owner-operators and large carriers, need to examine truck tires to make sure there is sufficient tread to make for a safe winter season. Just a trace of snow can be treacherous when tires are worn. As for tire chains, much of the planning centers around where your trucks normally travel and the various state laws having to do with chaining up.

truck-tire-chain

Truckers who operate from I-80 north should seriously consider carrying chains on board at all times. The same goes for many parts of Colorado between high I-80 and I-70. Weather can change rapidly enough that chains may be needed at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, the states are not necessarily cooperative in maintaining consistent laws across state lines. Below are two examples: California and Colorado.

California Law and Chain Announcements

The law in California does not stipulate specific times of the year when chains are necessary. Chaining is a decision left entirely up to Caltrans. If the weather does necessitate chain use, officials from Caltrans will send out a bulletin and activate signs located along the affected roadways. It is then up to drivers to make sure their vehicles are in compliance.

California has three different requirements depending on weather conditions and vehicles. For truck drivers, there is a choice between chains, cable chains, and spiders. However, cable chains are not permitted on some roadways under some weather conditions because they are not deemed reliable enough.

Affected roots in California include Interstate 8, Interstate 15, U.S. Highway 50, Interstate 5, and a few others. The law in California is significantly different compared to other states, like Colorado for example.

Colorado Chaining Laws

The chaining law in Colorado applies to every state, federal and interstate road in the state. Colorado has two levels of chaining requirements, depending on the severity of conditions. Furthermore, there are specific stretches of I-70 on which truck drivers are required to carry chains with them at all times from September through May.

Colorado does offer chaining banks where drivers without chains can pick them up as needed. However, drivers are better off buying their own chains if they regularly pass through Colorado on I-70. Otherwise, it is too easy to arrive at a chain bank only to find there are none left. Drivers found in violation of the law could face fines of up to $500. Blocking traffic as a result of not chaining up could double that fine.

Mytee Products carries a full line of tires and tire chains for America’s truckers. Our tire chains come in a variety of sizes, in both single and double configurations. If you do not see the right chains for your tires on our website, please contact us directly for more information. We may still be able to provide what you need.

We also carry a full line of tires for drive, trailer, and all positions. Once again, you may not see the particular size you need for your rig on our website. Nevertheless, we can likely still provide what you need if you give our sales department a call.

Winter is on its way so don’t get caught off guard by not having the right tires and tire chains. Prepare now before the first signs of snow fall.

Sources:

  • OOIDA – http://www.ooida.com/EducationTools/Info/chain-laws.asp