“Secure Your Load” Safety Patrols Across Washington State
With warmer weather coming, the Washington State Patrol is looking to improve safety measures for those traveling with unsecured loads. By adding additional patrols, they are hoping to help drivers be more aware of the hazards and risks associated with road debris and driving with unsecured loads. They will be conducting “Secure Your Load” patrols statewide this weekend–starting Friday and ending Sunday.
By making the public more aware of the potential dangers of flying road debris, the WSP hopes to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatal collisions. It’s part of an ongoing effort to make the state’s roadways safer for everyone.
Law enforcement officials are also cautioning drivers of serious penalties for driving with unsecured loads. In fact, these penalties range from a $228 citation, all the way to criminal charges, especially if there are injuries or property damages involved.
According to the state patrol, 170 debris-related collisions occurred in 2017 on Washington State highways. Consequently, sixteen of those included serious bodily injuries.
So as spring cleaning and lawn care gets into full swing, officials are asking anyone who may be taking unwanted items or debris to the landfill, to take a few extra moments to secure their loads. Doing so could save a life. https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/washington-state-patrol-troopers-to-perform-unsecured-load-emphasis-patrols-this-weekend/739070001
A Crash Caused by Trash
What’s the big deal about hauling just a little trash? In a recent report, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that road-debris accidents were not just a problem in Washington state, but nationwide.
- About 50,000 crashes a year involve road debris on U.S. roadways
- Road debris has resulted in nearly 10,000 injuries and 125 deaths each year
- Nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object.
- About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to unsecured loads and improper maintenance.
Crashes where a driver swerved to miss roadway objects were 4 times more likely to occur on highways. Without a doubt, improper containment is factor. But higher speeds are more likely to increase the risk of cargo falling or flying out of the vehicle, tires separating or blowing, and attributing to a slower reaction time for drivers. Debris-related crashes may include any of the following:
- A vehicle struck by object that fell from another vehicle
- Non-fixed objects or debris in lane of travel or roadway
- A vehicle that attempted to avoid a non-fixed object in the travel lane of the roadway and subsequently crashed http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RoadDebris_REPORT_2015.pdf
What is EXACTLY is an Unsecured Load?
An unsecured load is anything in transit that has not been fully fastened or attached to a vehicle. Tarps, rope, straps, netting or chains may be used to prevent any part of the load from coming loose, detached, or leaving the vehicle while it is moving.
Naturally, as is the case with anything, there’s always a few that will claim ignorance of the law or exempt themselves with excuses like, “It’s just a short drive.” Distance provides no immunity from the law and its’ consequences. In fact, the law is very clear—every vehicle that travels any publicly maintained road must have a secured load.
Rules of the Road
Always obeying the law is part of being a responsible and safe driver. “Rules of the Road” statutes, state law RCW 46.61.655, outlines secure load requirements. The Washington State Patrol dutifully enforces these laws to ensure everyone is safe on the road.
Parts of Washington state have gone even further by fining drivers arriving at transfer facilities or landfills with unsecured loads. King County strictly enforces a $25 fee for anyone arriving with unsecured loads to transit points and garbage dump locations within its’ jurisdiction.
Preventing a Crash
Traffic crashes caused by road debris are undoubtedly tragic. The reality is that the majority of them were preventable. In 2004, a lost load accident blinded Maria Federici. A piece of furniture fell from a rented moving truck and crashed through her windshield on Interstate 405. The impact nearly killed her.
Renton’s Robin Abel, Maria Federici’s mother, became a driving force in getting Maria’s Law to pass in 2005. Her main objective was to have every driver be more careful in their travels with loads and cargo. Albeit, she offered some hard-earned wisdom as well. “Secure your load as if everyone you loved was in a car behind you. It can be catastrophic if you don’t.” https://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2016/06/secure-your-load-its-law-as-well-as.html
Washington became one of just 16 states to pass a law that can send a responsible driver to jail. Being responsible not only means properly maintaining your vehicle, but making sure any items hauled with it are 100% secured. Anchoring and securing items being hauled in a trailer or pickup is key to preventing these types of crashes and tragedies.
Not just Safer, But Cleaner too!
There are other benefits to securing your load. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, vehicle-related road debris causes about 400 crashes and 12 MILLION pounds of litter on Washington roads each year. Securing loads not only improves safety but improves the cleanliness of the state’s roadways.
Every state has laws and penalties for road debris—including debris from unsecured or improperly secured loads. Check out this website to see how your state measures up–http://publicaffairsresources.aaa.biz/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Road-debris-State-Laws.pdf
Our Auto Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help You
Not only are debris-related crashes devastating for those involved, they can leave victims and families in a state of shock.
Seeking legal counsel may not be the first thing someone with serious injuries and/or property damage does, but it may end up being one of the most important things in recovering.
If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident in Washington or Idaho, contact Fielding Law Group today. A free consultation will answer your questions and show you how our experienced accident attorneys can get you financial recovery for your physical, mental, and property damages. By working one-on-one with our clients, we are able to offer the best legal representation throughout the entire resolution process, settling all personal injury claims. Our unparalleled abilities mean that you can concentrate on healing, while we make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Remember-Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!
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