State Patrol on the lookout for unsecured loads

Agency has begun 28-day statewide ‘secure load’ emphasis patrol

PORT ORCHARD — If you’ve been lax in securing the open loads on your vehicle, you will be an emphasized target of Washington State Patrol troopers through May 12.

Troopers will be conducting a 28-day, statewide “secure load” emphasis patrol that began April 15.

WSP said in a news release that not only are unsecured loads in danger of flying off vehicles and injuring — or killing — fellow roadway travelers, they contribute to roadside litter.

The effort, conducted in conjunction with the state Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Transportation, is intended to increase road and highway safety and prevent roadside litter.

“Unsecured loads pose a real danger to the traveling public,” said Lt. Mark Tegard of the Washington State Patrol. “Unsecured vehicle loads are no accident. They are dangerous, sometimes deadly. All drivers have a responsibility to make sure their loads are properly secured at all times.”

Littering is punishable by fines ranging from $50 to $5,000 in Washington state. The largest fines for “lit debris” — primarily cigarettes — and for large items that can cause crashes. Failure to secure a vehicle’s load can result in a citation ranging from a $228 fine to criminal charges if items cause property damage or injuries.

A vehicle’s load is secure, WSP said in the release, when no cargo can slide, shift, sift onto the roadway, or become airborne. Drivers with loads must secure it by tying the load with rope, netting or straps; tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer; cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting; stay within the vehicle’s load limits, and double-checking the load to make sure it is secure.

The state’s Department of Transportation will have electronic highway message signs visible to remind drivers where emphasis patrols are occurring. While the patrols will end May 12, drivers with unsecured loads should always anticipate the attention of troopers as well as environmental and road officials working together to keep roadways safe, clean and clear, the release stated.

“Our concerns for public safety align with the State Patrol’s,” said Laurie Davies, who heads DOE’s solid-waste management program.

“The Department of Ecology is also a steward of one of the most beautiful states in our country. Litter prevention measures like this are important because road debris can cause real environmental harm and is difficult to remove.”