A 2016 AAA Foundation study found that too many U.S. drivers are failing to secure their loads before heading out on the road. They also found that more than 200,000 crashes, 39,000 injuries, and 500 deaths were caused by road debris between 2011 and 2015. About two-thirds of accidents involving objects on the road are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads, which makes failure to secure a load accidents largely preventable.
A 20 lb. object traveling at 55 mph, has a force of 1,000 pounds on impact. We know that debris on the road can be extremely dangerous but these are preventable accidents. When drivers fail to secure a load properly, they are putting other drivers at risk for serious accidents and injuries. If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a negligent driver who failed to secure a load to their vehicle; contact a personal injury lawyer for help.
AAA Reports “Too Many U.S. Drivers are Failing to Secure their Loads Before Driving”
Drivers should be aware of their responsibility to secure their load properly. Below is some additional information about failure to secure a load accidents and how to prevent them.
The AAA study revealed some common characteristics of collisions involving road debris. Here is what they found:
- Almost 37 percent of road debris crash fatalities were as a result of a driver swerving or “overcorrecting” at the last minute to avoid hitting an object.
- Crashes involving debris on the road are most likely to occur on Interstate highways. One of the main reasons for this is that driving at high speeds increases the risk for cargo to fall onto the roadway or for vehicle parts to become detached.
The most common types of road debris created by vehicles are:
- Unsecured cargo like furniture, appliances, or containers.
- Tow trailers becoming separated from the vehicle they were hitched to.
- Vehicle parts becoming detached such as tires or wheels
Tips for securing a load
When drivers need to transport large objects in their vehicle, there are several things they can do to secure their load properly:
- Tie down the load with rope, netting, or straps.
- Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer.
- Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting.
- Don’t overload the vehicle (use judgement on this).
- Double check the load to make sure it is secure.
Failure to secure a load is illegal in Washington State
Washington was one of the first states to pass a law that made unsecured loads illegal. The law, which was passed in 2005, is called “Maria’s Law” after Maria Federici. Maria was just 24-years-old when a piece of wood fell off a trailer and crashed through her windshield, leaving her blind.
Washington State law RCW 46.61.655 specifically states that “No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public highway unless such vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping…” In plain language, traveling with an unsecured load is against the law. Drivers who fail to secure their load properly can be ticketed, even if nothing falls off of their vehicle. If something being hauled on a truck, trailer, or vehicle does fly off or leak out and harms or damages a person or property; the driver may be issued a stiff penalty.
Tickets from Washington State Patrol and local police can cost up to several thousand dollars; in serious cases, a person may even spend time in jail. If you arrive at a landfill or transfer station with an unsecured load of garbage, you will be charged an additional fee. Note that some communities have stricter load ordinances that go beyond the state law, requiring loads to be covered. It is every driver’s responsibility to check with local authorities to be sure they are in compliance.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!