If you are like me, you have seen your fair share of drivers tooling down the road with loose cargo just waiting to fall off. It might be two people in a minivan holding onto a mattress for dear life, hoping the wind will not rip it off the roof. Or it might be a pickup truck owner moving his apartment without making any effort to tie things down in the bed.
Tying down cargo before traveling is nonnegotiable. There are plenty of reasons for doing so. But if you want to know the number one reason, here it is: securing cargo is the right thing to do. It is right in the sense that not doing it could ultimately harm innocent people. If a driver won’t tie cargo down for his own benefit, he should do so for everyone else.
It’s Also the Law
If tying cargo down being the right thing to do isn’t enough to motivate you, there are other valid reasons. For starters, it happens to be the law. Every state has some sort of statute on the books that requires drivers to secure loose cargo regardless of the type of cargo or the vehicle they happen to be driving.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving a pickup truck, minivan, motorcycle, or commercial flatbed. It is against the law to take to the road without cargo being properly secured.
Fines and Other Penalties Are Possible
Given that cargo securement is the law, being found in violation thereof could lead to fines and other penalties. Here’s the thing: you could be caught and punished even if a loose object never falls off your vehicle. A police officer only needs to observe unsecured cargo to pull you over and write you a ticket.
If cargo were to fall off your vehicle and cause an accident, additional penalties could be forthcoming. You could see your license suspended. You could see your registration suspended or permanently yanked. There are lots of possibilities.
There Are Liability Issues
Also consider the fact that there are liability issues involved. What if something fell off your vehicle and struck the a behind you? The chances of you facing a civil lawsuit are pretty high. The more serious the resulting accident, the more liability you are looking at.
You and your insurance company could be forced to pay millions to an accident victim injured by your carelessness. That is bad enough. Making matters worse is the fact that you will have trouble getting car insurance after that.
You Have Lots of Options
Now that you know what can happen when cargo isn’t tied down securely, know that you have options. The most basic tiedown is a length of rope. It might not be the best choice, but it will work in a pinch.
Ratchet and cam straps are another option. Ratchet straps are usually for heavy loads on commercial trailers while cam straps are more appropriate for homeowner and consumer use. Rollercam is an example of a recognizable cam strap brand.
Finally, there are tarps and bungee cords. A tarp-bungee cord combo would be the perfect choice for covering loads of sand, gravel, etc. And yes, such loads still need to be secured by law. Throw a tarp over the top and keep it secure with bungee cords. It is simple but effective.
Tying down cargo before you travel is the right thing to do. Securing cargo protects other drivers and their vehicles. It reduces the risk of you being pulled over and issued a ticket. Why would you not tie down your cargo?