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Loading your truck: How to do it safely

An improperly-secured load in the bed of flatbed truck is a disaster waiting to happen -- and the nightmare of a lot of drivers. If you've been driving for a while, you've probably encountered at least one pickup truck in your life that was precariously packed.

It isn't unusual to see a heavy load tied down with a single line of rope or loose objects thrown in the bed of a pickup because the driver assumes that they're "heavy enough" to keep from flying out.

However, safely securing a load doesn't happen by accident. If you're using a pickup to haul a load of items, whether it's furniture for a move or stacks of wood for your fireplace, there are specific steps you should take before you hit the road.

1. Put whatever you are hauling evenly in the truck bed. If the truck bed isn't full, you can throw it off balance by having the weight of the load too far to the front or back. That makes steering harder, which can also lead to accidents.

2. Make sure you have the right tie-downs and use them. If you aren't sure a rope or tie-down you have is enough, don't guess. Get another that you're sure will work. It's better to spend a few dollars now than to spend a few years in litigation over damages caused by a lost load.

3. Check existing tie-downs for damage. Tie-downs you've used before may be worn or weakened at points, whether they're made of rope or steel. If you see damage, breakpoints, rust, fraying or some other sign of distress, replace the tie-down with a new one.

4. Recheck your load during transport for shifting or loosening of tie-downs. While commercial drivers are required to do this, it's a wise choice for anyone. Good rules to follow are:

  • Stop once before you go 50 miles to make sure that the load is properly secured.
  • Check again at 150 mile intervals.

In addition, if you switch drivers, the new driver should always check the load for safety personally before starting.

If you're in an accident with a truck that was carrying an unsecured or improperly secured load, consider seeking legal advice in order to protect your own best interests.

Source: Purdue University, "Securing the load," accessed Jan. 23, 2018

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