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Tips for Selecting and Safely Using a Ladder Rack for Your Vehicle

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A ladder rack can be a great choice for any utility vehicle, as trying to carry any type of ladder in the back of a truck or van can be very cumbersome, and downright unsafe. Even with a properly attached red flag or other marker on the end of the ladder, and even if it protrudes from the vehicle only slightly, that ladder and other such pieces can pose a hazard for drivers behind you, and make it difficult to back into parking spaces and driveways. When you are ready to shop for a ladder rack for your vehicle, note a few tips on how to choose the right one and how to use it safely when you're on the road.

Utility versus lockdown

A lockdown ladder rack is affixed onto the roof of a van or truck, whereas a utility rack usually has modules that you can slide around the rack. These modules allow you to affix more than just a standard ladder onto the rack; this includes pipes, conduit, lumber and the like.

The utility rack may be more expensive than a lockdown rack, but it can be worth that added investment if it means being able to haul other long items for your everyday work. Even if they're not overly long, a utility rack can keep these pieces from rolling around and potentially getting damaged while in transit.

Dropdown rack

A dropdown rack will have a mechanism that allows the rack to be lowered along the side of the vehicle, for easier loading and unloading. If you have an especially tall van or truck, or tend to work by yourself and won't have assistance in loading your vehicle's ladder rack, choose a dropdown rack for added convenience, and added safety, during the loading and unloading process.

Using the rack

Whatever your choice of ladder rack, be sure you don't overload it, as this is a common cause of accidents. Note that ladder racks will usually have a weight limit, so if you use an especially long ladder, or a heavy wooden ladder, this piece may need added bracing to stay in place. You also might still be required to add a red flag or other marker to the back of a ladder, even if it's affixed to the rack. Note, too, that you don't want to attach the ladder so far forward that it blocks your view when you're driving, or creates a bothersome glare off its surface.