The American Automobile Association carried out a three-year study between 2011 and 2014. From this research, it was concluded that 200,000 accidents were caused by poorly secured loads.
The National Highway Transport Safety Administration reported that, in 2016, 683 deaths occurred due to debris on the road.
By securing your load correctly, you keep other road users safe. All of your cargo arrives at its location, and you don't face the prospect of a looming court case. First, however, you need to take care and check that you have loaded and fastened your haul correctly.
There is a wrong way and a fitting way to secure your items in the bed of your truck. Read on to discover the proper way to tie down your cargo.
How to secure things in your truck bed
Here are a few factors you need to consider to secure stuff in your truck bed.
Is your truck capable?
Have a look around the edge of your truck's bed. If you don't see any cleats or hooks, it makes tying down your load difficult.
However, don't despair.
You can always go to your local automotive shop and purchase a set of cleats. Then fasten these to your tuck.
How much weight can your truck bear?
You don't want to overload your truck. Have a look in your owner's manual for your vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating.
Going over the recommended rating can damage your truck. The last thing you want is a wheel shaft or other integral part of your vehicle to snap. You may want to move as much of your cargo as possible, but be sensible and consider other road users.
Place heavier items towards the cab.
Sort out your cargo before loading everything. The weightier items should be placed at the back of the truck. This helps balance the center of gravity across the truck's bed.
If you don't evenly distribute the weight, you will find steering and driving your truck somewhat challenging. Also, with the movement, you can see that the weight shifts. But, again, this is something you don't want, as this can cause you to crash or your cargo to fall from the truck.
Heavy-duty ratchet straps are the best way to keep your cargo in place. Depending on the size of the load, you will want to secure everything with at least 2 to 4 straps.
Use a couple of angles when tying your load down. That is simply a precautionary measure in case one of the straps snaps or loosens while you are in transit. The second strap will still keep your cargo secured in the back of your truck.
These are okay to use for a smaller, lighter load.
Stretch out the bungee cords in a cross-grid pattern. Make sure that there is no slack between the bungee and the load. Also, check for fraying or any weakness in the metallic hooks. Finally, secure the hooks tightly to the underside of the lip of your truck's bed.
Before ratchet straps and bungee cords, there was a rope. A rope can still be an effective way to secure your load. Loop it around, over, and under your load. Check that the rope is evenly distributed across your cargo. Wind it tightly around your cleats or hooks and use a bowknot to tie your rope to your truck.
The ropes can become slack due to the cargo moving during transit. Using your truck's mirrors, pay careful attention to your load. If you have any doubts, stop and double-check that the load and rope(s) are still in good condition.
Like the bungee cords, and even with your ratchet straps, check your rope for any signs of wear and tear. Then, replace any worn-out items immediately.
Cargo covers and tarps
You won't find these very useful in keeping big loads secure. Cargo covers and tarps are designed to protect your load from the weather. They can be good for preventing loose items from falling out of the truck's bed.
Load your bed with some forethought
You don't want to randomly pile everything into the back of your truck. Approach loading your vehicle with some methodology. First, place in the flatter items. Next, the longer things can go into the back. The smaller objects are the last to go in.
Keep the longer items separated into groups using either bungee cords or shrink wrap. Tie loose stuff together in the same way.
If your tailgate is down, you need to attach a red flag to the end of any protruding items. Use reflectors and red lights at night to warn other drivers and road users.
Secure both sides
Running your ratchet strap, bungee cord, or rope horizontally down the middle of your cargo may seem sufficient to keep it secure. It's not. Vibrations and jiggles can cause your strapping to slip and slide as you drive along. Next thing you know, your freight has slid free from its binding.
Fasten your load by having your straps, cords, or rope run horizontally across it. Next, divide your item into thirds. Secure your cargo in the center of the top and bottom third. If you want more peace of mind, have an additional strap around the middle of the item.
Don't make these mistakes when loading your truck.
We have mentioned how overloading your truck can not only lead to mechanical failure but has the potential to endanger other road users.
You don't want to be part of the problem, so make sure you avoid these errors when loading the back of your vehicle.
The last section touched upon using forethought when loading up your truck bed. This planning extends to ensuring you have all the necessary items and equipment to transport everything safely.
Have a box stored in your truck in which you have extra straps, ropes, and any other essential tools.
Lighter items need to be weighed down. Consider using bags filled with dirt or sand to place on top or inside of these.
Not matching the equipment with the load.
It may be tempting to throw several bungee cords around a heavy item. It's quicker than using ratchet straps. Yet the energy transferred between the cargo and its bindings can exert a lot of pressure. That can cause your cords to loosen.
Now your freight isn't as secure as you hoped.
Your cargo isn't tied correctly.
Just because you have rope wrapped around something doesn't mean it's safe. Take your time and wrap the rope securely around your load. Pull the rope tight as you go; you don't want any slack.
Once you have everything secured, double-check that everything is fastened well. Test how tight the rope is.
Underestimating the load's capacity
Remember, we talked about checking your truck's weight rating? You don't want to put too much strain on your vehicle or engine. Also, you don't want to load so much onto the back of your vehicle that you struggle to keep everything secure.
Have a look at how many cleats and hooks your truck has available. Another thing you need to consider is the size of your cargo net or tarp. Will these be able to easily fit over your load, or are they too small.
Match the capacity of your cargo with your vehicle's ability. It may be frustrating for you to have to do more than one load, but your safety and the safety of other road users are at stake.
Securing a load in your truck bed begins with careful planning. Load flat objects at the bottom. Longer items come next, and more minor things come last.
Match your equipment to the load's needs and weight. Ratchet straps provide the best security, while bungee cords can be used for smaller, lighter loads. You need to run your fasteners horizontally across the middle of your item.
Unsecured loads have led to numerous accidents and deaths on the road. By taking your time and being careful about securing your cargo, you and keeping other road users safe.