Why should you secure your load?

Across North America, over 25,000 accidents are caused each year by litter that is either purposefully dumped by motorists or that falls out of vehicles with unsecured loads. Nearly 100 of those accidents are fatal. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, road debris causes about 350 accidents every year on state highways. Even if you are going a short distance and not driving on a highway, you are still required by law to secure your load.


Is your load secure? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
  • Would I feel safe if I were driving behind MY vehicle?
  • Would I want MY loaded vehicle driving through MY neighborhood?
  • What would happen to MY load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump?
  • Do I need to drive slower than I normally do?
  • Is my load secured at the back and on the sides AND top?
  • Did I double-check my load to make sure it is secured?


Recent incidents involving unsecured loads that caused serious injury or death:

  • Road Debris Can Be Fatal - In February 2004, Maria Federici was critically injured on I-405 in Renton when an entertainment center fell from the back of a trailer being pulled by a vehicle in front of her. A 2-by 6-foot piece of particle board flew through her windshield, hitting her in the face. Maria permanently lost her eyesight and has endured numerous surgeries including complete facial reconstruction. Read Maria's Story - Why you Should Secure Your Load, a brochure produced by the Washington State Department of Ecology that includes helpful tips for securing your load.
  • Loose Tarp Causes Fatal Crash on I-5 - In January 2006, a young man was killed and a 5-year-old boy critically injured on I-5 in Tacoma after a tow truck crashed into their car while swerving to avoid a tarp.
  • Woman Nearly Killed By Flying Piece Of Plywood - In February 2006, a woman and her young niece were nearly killed on Highway 101 near Hoquiam when a huge piece of plywood flew off a truck and right into their windshield. The plywood shattered the windshield and came within inches of the driver's face.


What can you do? Follow these tips for securing your load:

  • Tie Down - Tie your load with rope, bungee cords, netting or straps. Tie large items directly to your vehicle.
  • Don't Overload - Keep material level with the truck bed or trailer unless tied down, netted, or tarped.
  • Lighter Goes Lower - Put lighter weight things at the bottom of the load.
  • Consider Covering - Cover your load with a secured tarp or net.
  • Always Double-Check - Make sure your load is secured.


Do your part to make sure no one else is injured or killed by unsecured loads:

  • Take the time to secure your load and report people who don't secure theirs.
  • Call 911 if you see a load that is imminently hazardous - like unsecured lumber on a lumber rack or a precariously perched wheel barrow, or if something dangerous has or is about to happen