Flatbed Truckers! Tarp?

Topic 31891 | Page 1

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Adam C.'s Comment
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To Flatbed truckers (preferably with a couple years experience), how often do you guys have to tarp/strap your load? Is it very often or rare? I heard one flatbedder say 9 times out of 10 that the shipper tarps it themselves.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Turtle's Comment
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The definitive answer is... it depends. In my two and a half years of flatbedding I tarped roughly 50%-75% of my loads. But it really depended on the shipper and area of country I was in. Some months you may tarp every load, while other times you may go two or three weeks without pulling out the tarps. Ya just never know.

As for shippers tarping the load for me? It happens, but not often. Some shippers have tarp machines that drape the tarp over for you. But it's up to you to secure the tarp and take it off on the other end of the trip.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I like Turtle"s answer...

The definitive answer is... it depends.

If flatbed is something you're interested in then you will be doing some tarping. It could be a lot or a little. I'm on a dedicated flatbed job where every load must be tarped. However, I seldom tarp a load anymore. We have a good number of Conestogas in our fleet and most of what we haul are multi-stop loads. Those multi-stop loads go on Conestogas for the driver's convenience.

Each company or account will do things differently. McElroy hauls a lot of building materials like sheet rock. Many of the sheet rock plants pre-load trailers and then tarp them so they can park the trailer outside while in a holding yard. That keeps their product from being ruined while waiting for a power unit to arrive.

My dedicated customer has about 27 plants here in the United States. A few of them tarp the loads and have a yard where they park the trailers. Many of them just leave the pre-loaded trailers inside the building and the driver tarps it when he arrives. It all depends on how much extra space they have to store large quantities of material out of the weather.

There are also flatbed loads that don't require tarping. We don't typically see shingles or bricks and stones being tarped. Sometimes it just depends on the material or maybe a customer requirement. Sometimes it even depends on the time of year. I remember hauling slinky coils to a wire manufacturer in Tennessee. I forget the exact schedule, but during the time of year where there is salt put out on the roads we had to tarp those loads. They didn't want the road salt causing oxidation on their metal.

If you're wanting to get out of tarping, the easiest way is to avoid flatbed. If you're a little into enjoying conquering a good challenge, then flatbed work may be just the thing for you. Each day will have it's own unique challenges. I actually enjoy tarping. Each load is unique and requires some understanding of how to make it work best


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

I kept track of my loads during my first year solo and I tarped right at 50% of the loads.

But simply focusing on tarped versus non-tarped loads does not equate to hard versus easy.

Some tarp loads, like metal products, are more difficult to tarp because you have to put moving blankets or other materials to protect your tarps. And some of those metal loads are very sharp and require something more than moving blankets or they'll slice right through your tarps. For very sharp metal products I have some fire hose and some canvas tarps that I put over them to protect my vinyl tarps.

Also you may have a very tall load that you have to tarp and you have to climb up on top of the load. Like the ice-covered PVC pipe that required 4 tarps and was almost 14 ft in the air.

Other tarp loads like Iumber or sheetrock are pretty straightforward because they don't require a lot of protection and some of the sheetrock shippers where I pick up will mostly put the tarps on for you and all you have to do is bungie the sides.

And then you'll have non-tarp loads like building materials which have a lot of different individual components and you'll end up using like 15 straps even though the load only weighs 25000 lbs.

Regardless, as Old School says, if you are not inclined to tarp loads, or to find yourself in situations where you say to yourself what the f*** am I doing out here, then avoid flatbed.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Here to say the same thing as Turtle lol. Not only does it depend on what season and what you’re hauling but it also depends on what company and fleet you’re on. At System on the Denver fleet I tarped on average once every week or two if even that. Easily 90% or more of my loads were either not tarped at all or they were pre tarped because of the contracts we had with shippers (we pulled a lot of dedicated freight). I have a friend who just started over at Central Oregon trucking doing Denver regional and he tarps maybe once or twice a week so far


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.


Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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