Pickup Trucks: How to Transport Things

Get all your building materials home safe

Learn the art of hauling lumber and other building materials safely, even in a short-bed pickup truck. With proper loading, you can eliminate loss or breakage - as well as the chance of accidents.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine


According to AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, poorly secured loads are responsible for more than 25,000 crashes and approximately 90 fatalities in this country each year. And on top of that, there are all those nonfatal injuries to drivers behind you and damage to their vehicles. Guess who's responsible if something falls off your truck and injures somebody? Yup, you.

We checked with experts to find the best ways to secure loads on a pickup. Then we drove our pickup to the nearest Menards home center and loaded it with common DIY materials to show you how to properly secure them. You may think our tie-down methods are over the top, but securing a load to your vehicle isn't just about making sure it all gets home. It's about getting it all home without harming anybody.

You can use these methods when you’re moving furniture and other household goods too. They're just as likely to fly off your vehicle and cause injury, and you'll be just as liable.

Know the ropes—er, ratchet straps

Hauling is Dangerous!

  • In California, 155 people were killed in a two-year period by objects spilled onto roads.
  • In Georgia, 66 percent of road debris is the result of junk flying off vehicles.
  • In California, an estimated 140,000 cu. yds. of road debris is the result of improperly secured loads.

Wrap flimsy materials

Bundle long boards

Support and protect drywall

Use a cargo net for bulky loads

Tailgate can be up for light 8- to 10-ft. loads

Red-Flag It

After you've secured your load, make sure you attach a red flag on the end. It's required by law. Most home centers provide them for free. Just make sure you staple the heck out of it to prevent it from ripping off while you're tooling down the highway.

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