Failure to Secure a Load: Washington State Part 2
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…” Put simply, traveling with an unsecured load is against the law. If any part of your load can escape your vehicle; you can be ticketed — even if it doesn’t escape. If something being hauled on a truck, trailer or vehicle does fly off or leak out and harms or damages a person or property; a stiff penalty may be issued. 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 extra. Note that some communities have stricter load ordinances that go beyond the state law, requiring loads to be covered. Check with local authorities to be sure you are in compliance.
Secure cushions, pillows and other loose light items from flying away in the wind.
Strap and secure heavy items such as mattresses and furniture to the vehicle.
Be aware that uncovered materials such as wallboard or cardboard can disintegrate if they become wet in rain or snow. Cover items with a solid, water-proof tarp to prevent debris from flying into the air.
Fully cover loose material such as dirt with a solid tarp and secure the tarp to the truck or trailer.
If the load extends four feet beyond the bed of a truck or trailer, all four corners should be tagged with one foot by one foot red flags.
Before driving on a paved, public road all mud, rocks and other debris should be cleaned off of the vehicle’s body, fenders, frame, undercarriage, wheels and tires.
If you are able to stop, check that nothing in your load has loosened or shifted.
Use the appropriate tie-down for your load: straps, ropes and chains. As a general rule, the straps should be rated with a holding strength twice the weight of the load. Bungee cords should not be used as primary tie-downs but they can be used to secure items together inside a load along with twine, string, small gauge cord or rope. Cargo netting holds smaller, lighter items in place, but isn’t designed to keep heavy items from sliding and shifting. Sand bags, chocks and other blocking devices such as rubber mats can help to reduce movement of cargo and help hold slippery items in place.
- Adjustable tie-down hooks can easily be moved to meet different needs.
- A stake-hole eye bolt is a more solid but less adjustable option.
- A cargo bar buttresses against the sides of the truck bed, helping to prevent items from sliding or tipping.
- Webbed straps with tightening ratchets are some of the most secure, easiest-to-use tie-downs.
You can help keep roadways clear: report littering by calling 866-Litter-1.
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