The most dangerous vehicles on the highway are big trucks. It’s not about accident statistics, it’s about the consequences when a big rig gets involved in an auto accident. The mere thought can sometimes cause a heart attack.
I have seen one accident which involved an 18 wheeler, it was on I-40, I was driving west bound in Tennessee, the accident was on east bound, the huge truck blocked most of the east bound lanes, the traffic was nightmare for anyone who was driving east bound. I had no idea about casualties in that accident, I didn’t even want to imagine what happened to the drivers of the truck and other vehicles involved, I wished them good luck.
Accidents do happen, we have to deal with it, but there is at least one thing we can do, secure the load on the truck, it will limit the damage caused by the big truck when the truck gets involved in an auto accident, and this is more important for flatbed trucks than for box trucks.
For flatbeds, there are some tie-downs from which you can choose, such as tie-down chains, winch straps, ratchet straps, truck chains; it depends on your load type. You can use different tie-downs on your truck. Let’s say you’re hauling concrete pipes on your flatbed with winches installed, you most likely will need winch straps, the length of the strap depends on the width of the truck bed and the load. Assume you’re going to move a 16,000 lbs backhoe from one site to another, you will need at least 4 pieces of 3/8 inch transport chains to secure the backhoe, each chain also requires one chain binder to tie down the load, so you are looking at 4 sets of chains and binders. If your flatbed doesn’t have winches installed, and you need to haul some pallets, you can use ratchet straps to tie the pallets down on your truck bed.
How do we know how many tie down devices we need to secure the load on the truck? According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency, there is a general rule you can follow to decide the number of tie-down you need for your load, put it simply, the aggregated working load limit of all tie-downs used to secure an article must at least equal to one-half times the weight of the article. The aggregated working load essentially has two variations, when one of the anchor points of the tie down is on the truck and another is on the article of cargo, only one-half the working load limit of each tie down will be, if both anchor points of the tie down are on the truck itself, then the aggregated working load limit is the sum of full working load limit of each tie down.
Let’s say we use 2 inch wide ratchet straps, the pallet weighs 3,300 LBS each, according to the rule, we only need one piece of 2 inch ratchet strap for one pallet, because the working limit of 2 inch ratchet strap is 3,333 LBS, and the way we use it will put both anchor points of the on the truck bed, so the aggregated working load limit will be 3,333 LBS for one piece, this is already more than we need to secure one pallet on the truck bed.
We just have to make sure we have enough straps or chains for our load, one hundred percent safety is impossible but we can do our part to improve the situation.