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Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Safety protocols, standard processes, and trucking essentials are critical to keeping flatbed loads safe.

Follow the tips below to ensure a secure flatbed load and safe flatbed driving.

1. Use the right tie-down equipment and plan the cargo placement

After loading and distributing the cargo load safely and evenly, determine the number of tie-downs required and where each should go.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cargo securement rules, you’ll need at least one tie-down for every 10 feet of cargo, and any fraction beyond that.

For example, a 35-foot long flatbed freight would require four tie-downs.

You should also factor in the total working load limit of the securement devices, chains, and tie-down straps. The load limit should be 50% of the total cargo weight.

You can check the limits on the manufacturer manuals or its visible tags.

Keep these quick tips in mind when selecting securement devices.

  • Ensure the chains, chain binders, and ratchet straps can keep your freight fastened tightly in place when the rig is moving

  • Opt for cargo straps made of softer materials, such as plastic piping and lumber, to avoid potential damage

  • Invest in corner and edge protectors to extend the lifespan of your tie-down straps

  • Conduct fleet safety training and coaching for your drivers and staff to make sure everyone knows the proper equipment and ways to set them up

It’s always good practice for drivers to do quick inspections every 50 miles. The inspections ensure that cargo hasn’t shifted and that tie-downs are still holding.

2. Double-check your specs and distribute the cargo evenly

Avoid exceeding your flatbed trailer’s standard maximum freight weight. Distribute the cargo evenly to prevent the flatbed trailer from tipping or swerving.

Follow these general best practices.

  • Calculate the freight weight to distribute it properly and secure the cargo

  • Start stacking the load in the middle and move outward

  • Place heavier items above the axles and lower to the deck to keep a low center of gravity

  • Position 60% of the load in the flatbed trailer’s front half to keep the back end lighter and less unwieldy during transit

3. Take proper precautions

Flatbed trucking drivers must exercise caution when loading, securing, unloading, and transporting cargo. To avoid accidents and life-threatening injuries, drivers should also be careful when working on or around trailers.

Follow these safety tips.

  • Provide appropriate gear, such as ankle supports and non-slip footwear

  • Make sure everyone is mindful of obstructed walkways and narrow ledges that could cause anyone to fall or lose their footing

  • Ensure your personnel follows standard procedure when loading, securing, moving, and unloading flatbed cargo

  • No one should jump from the trailer, and anyone going down must use the steps and climb down carefully

  • Use a fleet safety solution that allows you to track dangerous flatbed trucking driving behavior

Flatbed shipping tips

Follow the tips below for proper and efficient flatbed shipping.

  • Understand the freight details. Know the type of cargo you’re hauling to determine the right materials to secure the flatbed freight during shipment. Also know the cargo’s value, dimensions and weight. The loading and unloading process. Required equipment. And pick-up and delivery locations.

  • Know the best flatbed trailer type to use. Some cargo requires specific flatbed types for proper, safe, and legal transport. Determine the right flatbed truck for particular loads to ensure the vehicle meets shipment requirements.

  • Leverage freight technology. On top of using truck tracking tools to provide superior customer support, use freight technology to make it easier for your clients to avail of your flatbed shipping services. The latter allows you to provide an online portal that lets customers easily learn and book your flatbed shipping services.

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