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 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 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.