Every year, unsecured loads cause car accidents, injuries, and litter on Washington’s roads. Washington State drivers can face significant fines and even criminal charges if debris from their vehicle injures another person. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure your load is secure helps keep our roads safer and cleaner.
Consider this story: on March 12, 2022, a truck driver failed to secure his mattress while driving I5 in King County. The mattress flew out of his truck bed, causing a collision, and killing a young female driver. Even worse, the driver fled the scene. This kind of tragedy is preventable.
Given the importance of this topic, we wanted to investigate some of the startling statistics and laws that apply here in Washington State.
When drivers fail to secure their loads, the results can be both dangerous and costly.
Consider some of these sobering statistics:
While these numbers are bad, they don’t tell the full story. For instance, some reporting metrics don’t distinguish if the debris causing a collision was natural (such as a fallen tree branch) versus a person’s poor decision. Also, many accidents are caused when motorists swerve to miss debris on the road. This debris may have flown off someone’s vehicle, but it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what happened.
There are several ways that unsecured loads on trucks and cars can trigger a collision.
It’s dangerous anytime you have an unpredictable event occurring on the roadways. Drivers generally understand how to anticipate other drivers’ actions. It’s difficult to predict a piece of furniture flying off a truck bed, or suddenly encountering a trash bag in the middle of the freeway.
It’s not only a good idea to tie down your load, in Washington State, it’s the law! This means that you could receive a ticket if you’re caught with an unsecured load on Washington’s roads.
Here’s what every Washington State driver needs to know:
One Washingtonian woman has worked tirelessly to bring stricter punishments for drivers with unsecured loads. Robin Abel’s daughter Maria was blinded and nearly killed when a piece of particle board flew off the back of a trailer. Since then, Abel launched a campaign called Secure Your Load and has devoted her time to bring awareness and push for harsher penalties. In 2005, Washington even passed Maria’s Law, which makes it a criminal offense if a driver’s unsecured load injures or kills someone else.
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to make sure your load is secure. Give yourself some extra time and make sure to have the right supplies on hand.
Here are some tips for how to secure your load:
Washington State Patrol assembled this short video which provides some helpful visual instructions about how to properly secure your load. Watch for Robin Abel’s interview at the end of the clip:
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “would I feel safe if I was driving behind my car on the freeway?”
What should you do if you’ve been injured in a car crash because someone was negligent and failed to properly secure their load? You might wonder who will pay for your medical bills and missed wages.
We recommend you involve a personal injury lawyer who deals with car accidents. A skilled lawyer will help determine the facts of the case and fight for fair compensation on your behalf. Please note that this process is separate from the criminal case that the driver may be facing.
For more specific help, please ask to talk to one of our lawyers. We offer free, confidential consultations and are happy to answer all your questions.