July 19, 2024

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Simple Physics Explain Why Cargo Has to Be Tied Down

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Tied Down
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The chances of driving down the road and seeing a commercial truck carrying cargo that has not been properly secured are pretty slim. Federal and state laws see to that. Yet it is not unusual to see unsecured cargo in pickup trucks and utility trailers. As scary as it sounds, I see it all the time. Understanding how dangerous this is goes back to basic physics.

Drivers are strongly urged to use truck tie-down straps, buckle straps, ropes, and even bungee cords to secure cargo before hitting the road. Cargo that is not properly secured is prone to movement. And if cargo can move, it can also fall into the road. The laws of physics are very strict in this regard.

Newton’s First Law of Motion

Perhaps the most common principle in all of physics is Newton’s First Law of Motion – a.k.a., the Law of Inertia. This law clearly states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest while an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Both types of objects will maintain the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an opposite force.

Here is what this means in simple English: the lawncare tools in the back of a pickup truck will continue moving forward when the driver applies his breaks. Stopping that movement requires a force in the opposite direction. The force can be applied by the front wall of the pickup bed or by tie-down straps holding the tools in place.

Another good example is the cargo on the back of a flatbed trailer stopped at a red light. Those objects will want to stay at rest when the truck accelerates, unless acted upon by a force that makes them move in the same direction as the truck. Ratchet straps provide that force.

Transfer of Energy

Another law of physics in play here relates to the transfer of energy. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be converted to another form or transferred to another object. Let us go back to the previous example of lawncare tools in a pickup truck.

When that truck goes over a bump, energy is transferred through the truck’s tires, into the chassis, and all the way up into the bed of the truck. It is then transferred to loose tools sitting in that bed. The energy causes the tools to bounce. If they are not firmly secured in place, a big enough bump could bounce them out of the truck and into the road.

Plenty of Forces at Work

I really don’t want to belabor the point, so let me just say that there are plenty of forces at work when a person is carrying cargo with any type of vehicle. All those forces are working to dislodge the cargo and send it sailing. Preventing such a disaster is not only necessary, it’s also easy. You just need some tie-down straps.

I have a thing for Rollercam cam straps. They are webbing straps with a unique cam buckle patented by Rollercam. Perhaps you prefer another brand. Or maybe you are a bigger fan of ropes and ratchet straps. Either way, tie-down straps are the easiest and most effective solution for overcoming the laws of physics when transporting cargo.

If you are still not convinced of how important it is to secure cargo, perhaps a few videos demonstrating physics at work would change your mind. The laws of physics don’t change. They are not meant to be broken, either. Remember that the next time you load up your truck or utility trailer with cargo.

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