Pickup owners love the convenience of having a truck bed for transporting items. Safety is crucial when transporting a load, no matter what’s inside.
Minimize risk of damage and injury to yourself and others when loading your truck. These nine steps will help you to load and secure items safely:
1) Empty your truck bed of any unnecessary items. Remove anything that isn’t absolutely essential to your delivery.
2) Install tie downs if you haven’t already. Most every pickup manufactured today (and even many older ones) are outfitted with stake pockets. Stake pockets may also be referred to as “anchor points.” Stake pockets are square-shaped recessed areas within the panels of your truck bed.
These handy little holes make it possible to accomplish a variety of different tasks. Every pickup owner should fill their stake pockets with tie downs. Tie downs are inserted into the holes.
Tie downs contain some type of a device to which ropes, hooks or carabiners can be clipped onto. This “anchor” may be in a variety of shapes. Ring, square, bar and cleat shapes are the most common.
You can even purchase retractable tie downs if you prefer not to have parts sticking up from your truck bed panels. The retractable Bull Ring tie down can be pushed down inside the stake pocket when not in use. Just pop them up and lock them in place to use them.
Tie downs are relatively inexpensive. Installation is simple and can be done at home in less than 15 minutes.
3) Load larger, heavier items first. These items should be placed at the front of the truck bed, next to the cab. Lighter items should be left near the rear of the truck bed. This will help to keep your vehicle’s center of gravity stable and prevent fishtailing and overturning.
You may need to secure bigger items with ropes or bungee cords. Items like tall pieces of furniture (especially those that are top-heavy) will undoubtedly sway sideways around corners.
Tying them down with cords or ropes ensures that they won’t tip over when you turn. Wrap tightly and then secure rope or cord ends to your anchor point tie downs.
4) Place very light items near the floor of the truck bed. Wedge them in between heavy items whenever possible.
Lighter items are prone to coming loose during transport. They may even fly out of your truck bed. Items that come loose can cause extensive damage. They may hit other cars or pedestrians. They can lead to accidents when drivers swerve to avoid items that land on the road.
Drivers are always responsible for their own loads. This means that you will be required to pay for any damage that occurs as the result of a lost load. So be extra certain that smaller, lighter items are tightly wedged into your truck bed.
5) Never over-load. All pickup truck beds are designed to hold up to a certain number of pounds in weight. Don’t try to go beyond this. Refer to your owner’s manual for the details specific to your vehicle type.
Additionally, make sure that your load is not too high. The higher you stack items, the more you’ll alter your vehicle’s center of gravity. This can be very dangerous and may lead to an accident or a lost load. It also inhibits both your visibility as well as that of other drivers around you.
6) Always cover your load with tarps. Unless you have a tonneau cover, you’ll need to cover your load. This is mandatory in some locales.
Even if it’s not the law in your area, it’s still safe practice. Covering your load provides extra protection against items coming loose and flying out of your truck bed.
7) Tie down your whole load. Once you have it covered, tie down the entire load with ropes or cords. You can never have too many ropes/cords.
Your cords should be secured in such a way that they cross about every other square foot or so. This is especially important for loads containing larger, heavier items (such as furniture). It’s also crucial for loads containing lots of lighter, similar-sized items (like a load of hay bales).
8) Secure your cords as tightly as possible. If you use ropes, make sure that knots are tight. If possible, use cords that can lock into place, such as ratchet tie downs.
9) Drive safely. Stay at or just under the speed limit when transporting a load in your truck bed. Take curves and corners extra gently. Avoid abrupt stops.