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Trucks are incredibly functional and fun. Drivers can take on many terrains and transport large, unwieldy loads. Unfortunately, many truck owners don’t secure their items safely in the truck bed. This can cause serious injuries and property damage to yourself and others. Make sure you know the most common storage mistakes truck owners make.

The wrong position in the truck bed

When loading, many people don’t consider item placement. If heavier items are placed in the back of the truck, it will be difficult to steer and control the vehicle. Place heavy items toward the front of the truck to avoid back-weighting. Lighter, smaller items are better positioned in the rear.

Failing to get the right equipment

Many truck owners assume a truck is ready to carry large loads without any preparation. In reality, they must know what anchors are built into the vehicle and whether additional ones are needed for safe transportation. 

Without the right anchor points or ratchet straps, chances that items are secured appropriately are much lower. Unsecured objects can break lose, damage your vehicle, hurt someone else’s, or injure others. Invest in quality anchor points and ratchet straps and understand the rated load capacity for both.

Failure to use a warning flag

Federal and state laws require use of a warning flag when cargo protrudes from the sides or back of a truck. Drivers may inaccurately assume that the cargo itself is a sufficient visual warning for others. Not true. The bright color of the flag and its movement in the wind make it much more likely to catch a fellow driver’s eye than cargo alone. Check your state laws for size and color requirements.

Using the wrong restraints

Using the wrong rope, straps, cargo net, or tarp is almost as bad as using no restraints at all. Rope and ratchet straps are essential for securing heavy loads. Substandard versions put items at risk of shifting and falling.

For lighter loads, a tarp or cargo net can keep objects from flying out when moving at high speeds. If the tarp or net is too small, items can escape. Any option that increases the chance that something will fall off the vehicle increases the danger for everyone on the road. A one-time investment in quality restraints and an appropriate tarp or net will save you from stress.

Improper tying techniques

All tying methods are not created equal.  Common mistakes include:

  • Only tying down cargo from one side
  • Leaving items uncovered by a restraint
  • Insecurely attaching restraints to anchors

Any of these errors can lead to loose items or debris as well as damage or injuries. Be sure to tie down cargo on two sides, cover all items, and follow instructions for attaching restraints to anchors.

Exceeding the load limit

You can follow all the best practices above but still face trouble if you exceed your truck’s load limits. An overloaded vehicle will result in poor handling and added pressure on shocks, wheels, and suspension. You’re also at risk of a tire blowout, which could result in a rollover.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately one third of vehicle deaths are associated with rollovers. Make sure you understand and comply with your truck’s payload limits.