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 just as lumber tarps, steel tarps or coil tarp 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 like Bungee 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.