Every year in Washington, debris from unsecured vehicle loads causes more than 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries.
In 2022, the number included five fatalities, a Kitsap County news release states. Unsecured loads not only endanger drivers, pedestrians and roadside workers, they also litter along roadsides. Approximately 40% of roadside litter comes from unsecured items falling or blowing from vehicles. Across the state, that equals 15 million pounds a year.
To deal with this, Kitsap County Public Works, the sheriff’s office and Leadership Kitsap have launched the Secure Your Load for Safer Roads campaign. The initiative promotes the strapping down and securing all items in every truck, trailer and car load.
The campaign includes cargo net giveaways, emphasis patrols and strict enforcement of a $10 fee for those arriving at solid waste facilities with an uncovered load, per the release.
The launch coincides with National Secure Your Load Day, observed June 6. The day honors those who have been affected or lost their lives due to unsecured loads.
County commissioners recently passed a resolution proclaiming Secure Your Load Day in Kitsap County. The resolution also acknowledges the role played by solid waste facility staff in educating motorists about load security.
Free cargo nets
Securing your load is one of the easiest ways to help keep our roads safe and our county beautiful. And now, you can get a cargo net to help – for free. Take the pledge at cognitoforms.com/KitsapCounty1/signupnowtogetafreecargonet to reserve a net for pickup at one of two upcoming events. Supplies are limited. Events will be June 3 at the Bremerton National Airport parking lot from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and July 16 at The Point Casino and Hotel parking lot in Kingston from noon – 4 p.m.
Free ratchet straps and car litter bags will also be available at both events – first come, first served. Limit one per customer, while supplies last.
As part of National Secure Your Load Day, local and state law enforcement officials are conducting emphasis patrols in Kitsap County to find unsecured loads, stop drivers and hand out tickets. Troopers will conduct emphasis patrols across Washington for three consecutive weekends between June 9 and June 25.
Littering and driving with an unsecured vehicle load carries fines up to $5,000 in Washington. If an item falls out and causes bodily harm or property damage, the driver could face jail time.
Secure all items in every load, no matter how short the distance or how slow the speed.
• Secure every load with straps, nets, tarps and other tie-downs.
• Fasten large items directly to your vehicle or trailer.
• Cover your load with a tarp or net.
• Double-check your load to make sure all is secure.
• Don’t overload your vehicle.
• Talk with friends, family and coworkers about the importance of load security.
Keeping Kitsap County roads clean has become increasingly difficult and costly following the decision to eliminate the use of inmate crews in 2021, the release states. Those full-time crews were responsible for removing five tons of trash from 300 road miles each month and were the primary resource for helping control litter across the county. Although Kitsap County has developed new strategies for roadside cleanup, more litter accumulates than can be collected.
State agencies spend over $12 million annually on litter cleanup. In 2022 alone, they spent 150,000 hours removing 5.4 million pounds of litter. The key to solving the problem is to prevent litter from happening in the first place. Securing your load and using a car litter bag are easy ways to help.
Starting Aug. 1, 2023, Kitsap County solid waste facilities will strictly enforce a $10 fee for customers arriving with an uncovered load. The fees will go toward litter cleanup.
Customers must show staff that their load is secure, without removing tarps, straps and tie-downs outside the facility.
The fee will be charged at the Olympic View Transfer Station and the Hansville, Silverdale and Olalla recycling and garbage facilities.
State law requires solid waste facilities to charge the fee for unsecured and uncovered loads. Facility customers will receive education during June and July, giving them time to get tie-downs.
Call 911 if you see a dangerous unsecured load or witness something fall from a vehicle that could cause a crash.
To report litter escaping from a commercial waste collection truck, email the Department of Ecology at Amber.Smith@ecy.wa.gov. Reports are sent to the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association, the group representing major trash haulers. Include the location, time, date, company name and truck number if available.