Road Hauling: Tie Down Tips for the Amateur

by : Art Gib

Whether you're moving your place of residence, hauling donations off to the second-hand store, or towing ATV's up the canyon, the reliability of your tie down techniques and cargo buckles can mean the difference between a safe arrival or scattering your belongings all over the highway.

Here are a few tips to help you ensure a safe arrival.

Securing a Loose Load

When I say "loose load," I'm talking about hay, dirt, or just a jumble of smaller items that are thrown into a trailer or truck bed without each item being individually tied down. This could be several garbage bags that you're hauling to the junkyard, gift packages that you're transporting for Toys for Tots, or simply a myriad of items of your own that you are moving from one apartment or house to another.

The last thing you want happening is for loose items to come flying out of your trailer or truck bed as you cruise down the freeway at 65 mph. If this does happen and another vehicle is damaged or an accident is caused as a result, you become liable.

It is for this reason that many states require that loose loads be covered in order to prevent anything from flying about. But in addition to covering the load, you'll want to make sure that everything is packed properly and tightly to prevent movement of any items to begin with.

After properly (and evenly) loading your trailer or truck bed, be sure to secure your cover (often a tarp for smaller loads) tightly. Once you start moving down the road, air is likely to travel beneath your cover and try to lift it from your vehicle or trailer. The tighter you keep your cover to the items you're transporting, the less air is likely to get beneath it, and the less likely it is to come loose. You also want to make sure that whatever you're using to tie down the cover is tightly secured to both the cover and the trailer or vehicle.

Securing Large Loads

For large loads, such as an ATV, motorcycle, or even a backhoe or other large equipment, the best option is often heavy-duty straps connected to a ratcheting cargo buckle. The cargo buckle ought to connect directly from the trailer to the load (i.e. the ATV, backhoe, etc.) at several points to prevent any part of the load from being lifted up during bumpy rides and to prevent it from sliding around.

Check the weight rating of the cargo buckle straps. If the straps have a rating of 500 pounds and you're hauling a two-ton vehicle, then four straps will be required at a minimum, although it's always better to be safe than sorry, so doubling the number of cargo buckles to eight would be recommended.

The main thing is to simply use common sense when securing your load. Think about what could happen to your load as you travel at high speed, over bumpy terrain, and any other conditions you might run into. Then take another look at your securing technique and decide whether it will be able to sufficiently handle a variety of conditions. And always err on the side of safety.