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The Basics Of Flatbed Trailers Every New Driver Should Know

Monday, June 18th, 2018
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Major companies often need items to be immediately transported across town or even across the country, but the load is too large for them to do it safely. In these cases, it is a smart decision to hire a flatbed truck driver. These individuals have the experience and knowledge necessary for transporting large items or shipments. If you are thinking about becoming a flatbed truck driver, it is important to know some of the basics, including why these trailers work well and how to use them safely.

When to choose a flatbed trailer

A flatbed trailer offers more flexibility than any other form of bulk transportation. The main reason for this is that the platform has fewer boundaries and allows more freedom to organize large or oddly shaped items. Flatbed trailers are often used to transport large construction equipment and other items that cannot be placed inside normal semi trucks. The driver is responsible for safely loading and unloading the flatbed trailer, while making sure the equipment is safe as well.

Pulling a flatbed trailer

Flatbed truck drivers should be in good physical shape. This ensures that larger loads will be strapped down properly. Accidents can happen if an inexperienced driver rolls his truck over because the load came loose.

A flatbed truck driver should always monitor their loads and make sure none of the items move off the top of the trailer while in motion. At times, drivers may be required to be outside during severe weather, checking and making sure the load is secure on top of the trailer. You should always use weather proof tools including straps, clamps, and tarps to secure loads.

Tarps can be quite heavy to move, so drivers must be able to lift them to secure items before beginning their route. Drivers should be able to lift 100 pounds from the ground to the trailer safely and efficiently. This will confirm they can move the tarps with relative ease and secure the load in place on top of the flatbed trailer.

Most flatbed trailers are equipped with a spread axle which allows for better distribution of the item’s weight on top of the trailer. Each state has their own rules and regulations regarding loading items on each axle of the trailer. It is important for all drivers to continuously check the condition of their loads. If an item is damaged, they will have to submit an accident report at their final destination.

Types of flatbed trailers

It is important for new drivers to choose a flatbed trailer that is designed to accommodate many items while in transit. Different flatbeds work better with oddly shaped loads that standard trailers may not hold properly. Some of the most common types of flatbeds include standard, double-deck, and double-drop trailers, among others.

Standard flatbed trailers

A standard flatbed trailer is a boxed trailer that has no top, sides, or doors. These are typically used in transporting large construction equipment from one site to another. Other materials that can be moved with these trailers include steel products and smaller machinery.

Double-deck flatbed trailers

Typically, double-deck flatbeds are used to transport large loads because the top sits lower than other flatbeds. The load stands larger than the cab, which creates up to two feet of extra overhead clearance.

Double-drop flatbed trailers

A double-drop flatbed trailer is very similar to a single-drop model, as it has a low-center that drops on each end. This creates a well that is helpful to carry and load taller items. Drivers and loaders are aided by having lower ground access than other flatbeds, but it does shorten the useable length of the trailer itself. Normally, a double-drop flatbed is used to transport large items that require a crane to be moved.

Other types of flatbed trailers

Other flatbed trailers include the lowboy trailer, which is used to move especially tall or large items. Stretch flatbeds transport loads that are too long to fit on a standard 48-foot flatbed. Loads of this size require a special permit to travel on highways safely. A covered wagon flatbed is a standard commercial trailer that is fitted with stakes and posts to enclose every load with a tarp.

How flatbed truck drivers stay safe while loading and unloading

Although trucker safety is important in all aspects of the job, some do not consider loading and unloading to be a key area of focus. However, many injuries can be prevented by simply using the right equipment at the right time. Safety equipment like harnesses, nets, and safety ladders are common and efficient tools to help you stay safe while loading and unloading your trailer.

The Deckmate ladder is a lightweight, portable safety ladder that allows you to access your flatbed trailer quickly and efficiently. This device attaches to the rub rails on your trailer, so you know it is sturdy and secure. Because the Deckmate ladder was designed by a professional trucker driver, you can trust it to help you every time you need to access a load.

Looking to increase the safety of your flatbed trailer

Gateway Supply in Pampa, Texas is the U.S. distributor of Deckmate Ladder. This ladder will ensure safe operations when moving loads on flatbed trailers and prevent injuries from jumping off trailers, heavy equipment, or vans. If you are interested in learning more about our Products, call us today at (806) 440-1126 or Contact Us by email.