Starting out as a flatbed trucker, there is a lot to learn. Each load is different, but the end goal is always the same—get the load to its destination in the condition you got it. To help you do that, we’ve compiled some helpful flatbed trucking tips from experienced drivers.
Flatbed Safety Tips
- Never move an unsecured load—even a few feet. As soon as the load is on your truck, you are responsible for it. If the shipper is asking you to move out of the loading area before you’ve secured the load, it’s okay to refuse until you feel the load is safely secured.
- Use the appropriate number of chains or straps to secure the weight of the load to the flatbed trailer. A minimum of one chain per 10,000 lbs. is required, but there’s no such thing as “too many.” Requirements for securing flatbed loads vary by state, so be sure to check the FMCSA guidelines for each state you will be driving through.
- Stop to check your load within the first hour of driving - loads can settle and become loose.
- Falling while tarping is an easy way to get injured. If there is a tarping station or machine available, use it. If not, move cautiously when laying and securing your tarps. A strap pusher can help you adjust edge protection from the ground and limit the number of times you need to climb onto the load.
- Have a hard hat, safety glasses, and vest in your truck at all time. Many locations will require you to wear PPE when handling a load.
Flatbed Truck Tips
- Take good care of your tools. Put away chains carefully so they don’t get tangled. Clean your tarps and patch rips or holes. Grease ratchet binders with Lucas Oil or WD-40 to prevent them from getting jammed.
- Carry backups of everything. Extra straps, tarps, bungee cords, and gloves. These items will fail and you don’t want to be stuck without them.
- Securing loads can be dusty or muddy depending on the weather. Coveralls can help keep your clothes clean, but it’s a good idea to keep wet wipes in the cab for yourself and cleaning products for the truck, too.
- Keep a cordless drill with an Allen key in your toolkit to quickly roll and stow your straps when riding empty.
We hope these flatbed trucking tips will help you feel a little more confident as you begin your new career. If you have any questions about these tips or if you’re unsure of how to secure a load, don’t be afraid to ask another driver for advice, most are more than happy to help out a new driver.
For more helpful trucking tips, check out our other blogs for owner-operators.