Every job has its hazards. Workers in retail and hospitality have to deal with unhappy customers who can make their lives difficult. Construction workers have to worry about accidents while healthcare workers are constantly exposed to every germ on the planet. Even flatbed truckers have their concerns.
The flatbed truck driver is among a unique breed of professional drivers willing to carry unusual loads that are fully exposed with the exception of strategically placed truck tarps. Many loads carried on flatbed trailers find their way there because they do not fit neatly inside dry goods vans. As a result, flatbed loads tend to be oddly shaped and, at times, oversized.
So what are the hazards of flatbed trucking? According to Mytee Products, a company that sells cargo control equipment and supplies to flatbed drivers, the five things listed below are among the top concerns for the flatbed industry.
1. High Winds
High winds can make a flatbed driver’s day a nightmare. When it comes to loading and unloading, high winds make tarps very unwieldy. More than one trucker has sustained injury as a result of trying to tarp a load in the wind. High winds also expose truckers to extreme temperatures during the winter months.
High winds are even a problem for flatbed truckers as they move down the road. A fairly stiff cross wind can push a trailer sideways, especially if the driver is carrying an oversized load. They also have to worry about wind damaging their cargo. That’s why flatbed drivers use so many chains and straps to tie things down.
2. Low Hanging Bridges
Low hanging bridges in the U.S. are typically marked with signs warning drivers who might be passing underneath. A bridge without a sign is considered to be at the minimum height or higher. But every now and again, a sign is missing or a driver’s load is just too high. As such, flatbed truckers dread the possibility of encountering a low hanging bridge en route. More than one truck driver has sandwiched his load underneath a bridge that was too low.
3. Snow and Ice
It should be obvious that flatbed truckers do not like snow and ice because it makes driving that much harder. But they also make protecting cargo harder as well. Truck tarps do a fairly good job, but even they are not perfect. Flatbed truckers have to work extra hard during the winter months to make sure their cargo is protected from the weather. Snow and ice can be a real nuisance.
4. Odd Loads
A flatbed trailer has to be properly balanced for the safety of both cargo and the driver. Odd loads, like heavy construction equipment for example, can make balancing a trailer a bit of a challenge. Moreover, an unbalanced trailer makes driving more difficult and puts undue stress on equipment. Neither is good.
5. Wide Loads
Last but not least are wide loads. Experienced truckers are more than happy to take these loads because they pay more, but they are also significantly more hazardous. Wide loads are subject to all sorts of potential problems including narrow roads, high winds, and even other drivers who sometimes cut things too closely.
Flatbed truck drivers do a job not a lot of other people are willing to do. There are hazards involved, like the five things listed here, but lifelong truckers embrace them as a challenge. It is good they do. If people only knew how much our economy depends on truck drivers, they might be more appreciative of the work these dedicated professionals do.