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Is it safe to drive with a tonneau cover open?

Is it safe to drive with a tonneau cover open?

In this article, we will delve into the heart of this matter with the enthusiasm of seasoned roadsters and the wit of those who relish a touch of vehicular quirkiness. Let us unveil the truth behind the tonneau conundrum. Can driving with a tonneau cover open?

Reasons for Driving with an Open Tonneau Cover

While most tonneau covers are designed to be closed during every day driving to maximize their benefits, there are scenarios where driving with an open tonneau cover may be necessary or preferred. Here are some reasons why someone might drive with an open tonneau cover:

1. Transporting Large Cargo

Transporting large or tall items that exceed the height capacity of the closed cover may necessitate driving with it open.

2. Aesthetic Preference

Some drivers prefer the appearance of their truck with the tonneau cover partially or fully open, showcasing the truck bed or cargo area.

3. Increased Airflow

Driving with an open tonneau cover can allow for increased airflow into the truck bed, which may be desirable when transporting certain items or in hot weather.

4. Convenience

Keeping the tonneau cover open can provide quick and convenient access to the truck bed without the need to open or close the cover entirely.

5. Temporary Usage

For short trips or specific driving situations, such as moving within a worksite or parking lot, for flexibility in accessing cargo.

Is Driving with a Tonneau Cover Open Allowed?

From a legal standpoint, driving with an open cover may be allowed if the cargo or items in the truck bed are safely secured and do not pose a hazard to other drivers. However, verifying specific rules in your region is crucial to avoid potential fines or penalties.

The Risks of Driving with a Tonneau Cover Open

While driving with an open tonneau cover can offer convenience, it also comes with inherent risks:

1. No Security

Leaving the truck bed exposed with an open cover makes it vulnerable to theft. Thieves or opportunists can easily target valuable items left unattended.

2. Loss of Items

Items in the truck bed can be susceptible to falling out or shifting when driving with an open cover, especially at high speeds or over bumpy roads.

3. Lack of Weather Protection

Open tonneau covers leave cargo exposed to weather elements such as rain, snow, and sunlight, potentially causing damage to the cargo. If it was windy enough, light-weighted cargo could easily blow away.

4. Vehicle Damage

Driving with an open tonneau cover exposes the vehicle to increased wind forces, potentially causing damage to the cover or other vehicle components.

5. Risk to Other Road Users

Loose items from the truck bed can harm other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians.

The MPG Effect of Driving with an Open Tonneau Cover

An open cover creates additional aerodynamic drag, significantly reducing fuel efficiency, especially at higher speeds. Studies have shown that driving with an open tonneau cover can reduce miles per gallon (MPG) by 5-10% compared to driving with a closed cover.

Driving with an Opened Hard vs. Soft Cover

The type of tonneau cover—hard or soft—can impact the practicality and safety of driving with it open.

Hard

  • Hard tonneau covers, typically made of materials like fiberglass or aluminum, may provide better security and weather protection when closed but can be more cumbersome to partially open.
  • The rigid structure of a hard bed cover can help keep cargo in place and prevent shifting or airborne debris.
  • Depending on the design and installation of the hard bed cover, opening it may obstruct rear visibility to some extent.
  • Hard tonneau covers are typically more durable and resistant to wind forces. The structural integrity of a hard cover may be better maintained when partially opened, reducing the risk of damage or wear.

Soft

  • Soft tonneau covers, often made of vinyl or canvas, are generally lighter and more flexible, making them easier to fold back or roll up for partial access to the truck bed.
  • Soft tonneau covers are more susceptible to wind resistance and may flap or billow while driving, potentially causing damage to the cover or vehicle.

How to Secure an Open Tonneau Cover

If you must drive with an open tonneau cover, taking steps to secure the cover and its contents is crucial:

  • Use Tie-Down Straps: Secure more oversized items with tie-down straps or cargo nets to prevent them from shifting or falling out.
  • Locking Mechanisms: Some tonneau covers come equipped with locking mechanisms that allow partial opening while keeping the cover secured in place.
  • Monitor Speed and Conditions: Drive at moderate speeds and avoid rough terrain to minimize the risk of items in the truck bed becoming dislodged.
  • Regular Inspections: Periodically check the contents of the truck bed during stops to ensure everything remains securely in place.

While driving with an open tonneau cover can offer convenience under certain circumstances, it's essential to be aware of the associated risks and take necessary precautions to ensure safety and compliance with local laws. Additionally, being mindful of the impact on fuel efficiency can help make informed decisions about when and how to use a tonneau cover effectively.

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