Top 3 Windshield Time Sightings: Trucks without Racks

Written by on June 8, 2011 in Uncategorized with 5 Comments

I drive alot. We currently have 3-5 projects happening, sometimes on the same day and within at least a 50 mile radius. When I am on the road between projects, I can’t help but notice other projects and even other contractors on the way to their projects.

Here are 3 from the past 48 hours:

Monday Morning Truck #1 pulled right in front of me in fast traffic as it left the Dunkin Donuts on monday morning. Otherwise I may not have noticed the loading strategy of the tools. Appears to be a stepladder loosely tied to the rack behind the cab, laying on top of a big bag of trash, with a Dewalt compound miter somehow crammed in among sawhorses and other tools. That saw may not be cutting straight, but it will be on the job, or at least it appeared it would be making it.

Tuesday Morning Truck 2 passed me with a large extension ladder and some decking sticking waaay out over the tailgate. I never like the look of this. If you have to go up and over the tailgate, try to keep from protruding more than about 3 feet and please hang some colorful tape or something to alert others. Plus, I have bumped my head on things over tailgates and it is a bummer.

Wednesday Morning Truck 3 I came upon in traffic. He at least made an effort to strap his lumber down, but this type of strap job only gives the driver and others in traffic a false sense of security, thinking it might be safe. I watched the lumber start jockeying to the right before snapping my picture and moving on. This type of load particularly freaks me out because my depth perception is not well suited to this visual in traffic. It is so easy to envision a high school kid texting their way up to the red light as this load of lumber punctures the radiator.

Honorable Mentions: I didn’t have the heart to photograph the guy at Lowe’s who laid 4 sheets of drywall across the rails of his truck bed and drove off without securing them. Gonna get a little bit sideways on that one. I also didn’t capture the guy with the 2×8’s crammed in through the hatchback and sticking out the passenger side window by at least 6 feet. If you do that move, don’t drive too close to the sidewalk or heads will roll.

Best practice is to rack up those trucks, folks.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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  1. I always worry about the family behind the truck swerving to avoid stuff that falls out. Hopefully nobody gets hurt. Good post.

  2. Brilliant! Great observations Topcoat! In my first year out on my own I had a score of siding on top my ladder rack. I had the bundle secured with several black rubber bungees and the multi-colored bungee cords, both of which are decent if you are securing an extra helmet or a bag of groceries to the rack on your motorcycle.

    I had seen other contractors in the area that routinely do the same. Didn’t think much of it and figured it was safe.
    I pulled out away from the lumber yard and went to my first stoplight. Ah.. a new day, new project all was good! Well when the light turned green and I hit the gas, the bungees decided they had better things to do than work. The black rubber bungees decided to snap and my whole load ended up behind me on the pavement.

    Was it embarrassing? Absolutely! To add insult to injury most of the siding was cracked and as the load came off my rack like cards coming off a stack a dealer’s hand, each and every one slapped and dented my pristine tailgate. I was green. I learned an important lesson that day. Secure your load whether it is tools, or material. Secure it to ensure it gets to the job in one piece and is ready for the tasks at hand. Secure your load so you are not creating a dangerous situation in traffic. By the way, I only use ratchet straps now to secure any load that is on my truck or in my trailer.

    I see other well-known companies in the area using these cheap bungees to secure material that has been removed from their project. I also see their tools/ladders secured to their vehicles in this fashion. WHENEVER I see this I back away, get in the next lane, and or try to pass them… whatever it takes to make sure I am not going to have to do an emergency maneuver to avoid an accident because of a careless “contractor?” who doesn’t realize that they are a danger to the public.

    Can you look at the way they are organized as an example of the work they will do to your home/business/project? Would be a good discussion!

    Nathan Deneault
    Atlas Coatings & Construction
    http://atlascoatingsandconstruction.com

    • Great story, Nathan. Not sure if there is a correlation between truck organization and work delivered. I know guys who nail both. I know guys who are sloppy looking but efficient and do quality. I know guys who are organized hacks. It would be hard to identify a pattern, I think. Even me, my trucks are far from an example. You may have seen the recent pt thread where I hoed out our 3 trucks and found all kinds of cool stuff. Our trucks tend to be service vehicles for multiple jobs so they get out of control fast. I need a fleet manager. My retired father has been volunteering and I may just take him up on it.

  3. Good points, Jason. Truck #2’s approach can work. I’d at least throw a bungee on to avoid slide. I banged my head on one of those a couple weeks ago, which made it a pet peeve.

  4. No rack on my truck, I can’t stand the things even though they are most practical for contractors. I have a hinged hard cover for the back. It keeps all my tools and materials dry and out of site and it locks up for security. Once in a while you’ll catch me running down the road looking like truck #2 but you can’t have it all. I just prefer the neat and tidy look vs a ladder rack.

    Of coarse, I don’t typically need big ladders for all my jobs.

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