According to AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, roadway debris caused more than 200,000 crashes with 39,000 people injured and 500 deaths in the U.S. over a four-year period. Many of those crashes could have been prevented if the drivers involved had properly secured their loads. If you’re thinking of using your pickup truck to transport something, there’s more to it than tossing your items into your truck willy-nilly. A little bit of planning and organization when trying to secure cargo will help protect your things from damage and others from getting injured. Here are five steps to help you properly secure and transport cargo in your pickup truck.
1. Get the Right Equipment
First things first. You need to make sure you have the right components to correctly secure cargo in your truck bed. Depending on the types of items you usually transport, you’ll need to invest in some quality truck anchor points and heavy-duty ratchet straps. Tie-down straps and anchor points are an important part of a secure cargo restraint system and come with a rated capacity so you know exactly how much weight they are capable of handling. When you purchase anchor points and tie-downs, make sure they’re equipped to handle the cargo you want to secure.
Although some trucks come with built-in anchors, they are often at the bottom of the truck bed and can be difficult to access if your bed is full. An anchor point mounted in the rail stake pocket, on the other hand, provides a strong tie in a convenient working height. If you have a tall load, you can even save the extra 4-6 feet of strap required to go all the way to the floor on both sides.
2. Know Your Truck’s Load Capacity
It’s important to know your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and load capacity before you begin loading your truck. The GVWR can usually be found on a label on the rim of your driver’s door or in your owner’s manual. Whatever your truck’s GVWR is, don’t exceed it. Doing so could damage your vehicle. See our article on determining your trucks payload capacity for more helpful information
3. Position Heavier Items Towards the Cab
Be sure to position heavier items towards the cab of your truck. This will prevent your truck from becoming back-weighted, which can cause poor steering and handling. Also, try to even out the weight on both sides of your truck.
4. Secure Cargo on at Least Two Sides
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’ll need to tie down your cargo. It’s important to tie down your cargo on at least two sides using the ratchet straps and anchor points mentioned above. You should also secure the straps to the load itself when possible. You’ll want to make sure your load is as secure as possible to prevent any movement during transport.
5. Flag Long Loads
After you’ve secured your load, be sure to attach a red flag on the end of any overhanging materials. The law actually requires you to do so. If you don’t have something red at home to attach, most home centers sell tailgate flags that you can use.