When you don't tie down a load, say of hay or some other commodity, you're breaking the law. Plus, you're risking losing the load and having to pick it up. I know – I've lost a half of load of hay before in the middle of a busy highway. It's no fun.
The law is specific about how you're supposed to tie down a load. It tells what kind of straps to use and how many need to be used on the load. That depends on the size of the load, notes Fred Whitford, Purdue University coordinator of Pesticide Programs.
What you're not supposed to use are tarp straps – the slender rubber straps with metal hooks on the end that you can hook together and stretch. I admit I have used them before, but I will think long and hard before I use them again.
Coming home from an assignment recently, I headed south on Highway 37 just south of I-465 on the southwest side of Indianapolis. Suddenly I heard this awful racket. I hadn't seen anything in the road, and it didn't quite sound like a flat tire, but I knew it wasn't good, either.
I stopped and looked. A big steel hook from a tarp strap was stuck in my right year tire. Only a small part of the tarp strap was still attached. I knew if I pulled it out the tire would go flat. I needed about 12 miles to the repair shop.
I got less than a mile and the noise stopped. The metal end had dislodged from the tire. Soon the tire inflation warning light came on. What a deal – a warning that you're about to have a flat tire! I made it another couple miles and pulled into a gas station. I bought a can of that stop-flat stuff and took off. I got another couple miles and the tire went flat again. Apparently the hole was too big to seal.
So I had to change the tire. That's another story.
The moral of this story is: don't lose tarp straps on the road, and if someone does, don't run over it.