Every year, nearly 400 collisions occur on Washington roadways because of road debris. It’s estimated that 40% of the litter on local highways is caused by one thing: Unsecure loads.

The Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) estimates that 12 million pounds of litter is found along Washington’s roads each year…12 million.

That’s why Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has declared June 6th as “Secure Your Load Day” in order to bring awareness to the serious safety issue litter debris poses to motorists.

Last year, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) received more than 20,000 emergency calls for road debris. Troopers stopped nearly 1300 people for debris related violations and issued more than 500 citations and written warnings. 27% of those citations were given to drivers for debris that escaped from your vehicle.

On a national scale, more than 200,000 collisions involving debris occurred on U.S. highways over the last four years. 2/3 of those related crashes are a result of items falling from vehicles (according to AAA).

However, not all unsecure loads are from improper restrains. WSP troopers respond to fires along highways caused by people throwing cigarettes or other tobacco products out their windows.

WSP Motor Carrier Safety Division Captain Mike Dahl says, “I think we can all do a better job of securing our loads and ensuring our vehicles are clear of debris before we go out on the road…this not only prevents litter from piling up along our freeways but it also prevents injuries and saves lives.”

In Washington State, the fine for transporting an unsecure load is $216. Tough secure your load laws were boosted in 2005 after her daughter Maria was blinded and nearly killed after debris smashed through her windshield along I-405. It’s called “Maria’s Law,” and drivers can face a $5,000 fine and even jail time if an items falls off a vehicle and causes property damage or bodily injury.

Whether you use netting, rope, straps, or bungee cords, the Washington State Patrol is asking that you take proper measures to secure your loads. Here are some safety tips to consider before hitting to roads:

  • Tie down your load with rope, netting or straps
  • Tie down large objects directly to a vehicle or trailer
  • Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
  • Don’t overload your vehicle
  • Always double check your load to make sure it is secured properly
  • To be safe, double check your load every time you stop since adjustments may be necessary due to shifting