failure to secure a load

We have all driven down the freeway and seen debris blowing around due to another driver failing to secure a load. When material of any kind falls off of a vehicle because it isn’t properly secured, it is littering. No person shall throw, drop, deposit, discard, or otherwise dispose of litter upon any public property in the state…whether from a vehicle or otherwise.” (Source: RCW 70.93.060 (1)). According to Washington State Patrol Records, approximately 37 percent of all litter-related citations issued by Washington State Patrol are for a failure to secure a load. An additional 22 percent of citations are issued for debris escaping from loads.

Road litter and debris is dangerous. Every year in North America, road litter causes 25,000 accidents with almost 100 fatalities. Washington State accounts for more than 400 accidents annually caused by road debris. Many of these accidents and injuries could be prevented by doing a better job to secure a load.

What is a secured load?

A load is secure when no cargo can slide, shift, fall or sift onto the roadway or become airborne.

How to secure a load

All cargo should be secured to prevent movement forward and backward, side-to-side and up and down. Take into account that many road conditions can move, shift or tip a load: turning a corner, hitting a bump or uneven pavement/gravel, a sudden braking or going up a steep hill. Wind or heavy rain could also affect your load.

Place lighter items in the bottom of the load; heavier items can be used to weigh down the lighter ones.

If possible, take two loads rather than filling the load to the top edge of the truck bed or trailer. It is preferable to leave six inches between the load and the top of the bed or trailer.

Block items by placing them against each other or bundle them together to reduce shifting and movement.

Tall cargo should be placed against the back of the cab; upright cargo should be strapped securely to the truck bed or trailer but, if possible, lay tall items flat on the truck bed or trailer.

Block the wheels of rolling equipment to prevent movement: wrap straps around and through the wheels.

Securely seal all boxes, bags and garbage cans to keep contents from blowing away.

Wrap straps through and around items such as hand trucks and ladders and then secure the straps to anchor points in the bed of the truck or trailer.

Re-enforce and strap down small items like shovels and rakes. Strap items such as gas cans and paint cans together and/or cover them with a secured tarp. Hand tools should ideally be kept in the cab of the truck or in a toolbox secured to the bed of the truck or trailer.

The list continues in Part 2.

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