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CHP Says Secure Your Load for Safer Roads

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Vehicle-related road debris causes about 400 crashes and twelve million pounds of litter on California roads each year according to numbers recently released by the California Highway Patrol. Driving with an unsecured load is against California state law and if an item falls off a vehicle and causes bodily harm, the driver faces gross misdemeanor charges and penalties of up to $5,000 and up to a year in prison.

What is an unsecured load?

According to the CHP an unsecured load has not been fastened in or attached to the vehicle with tarp, rope, straps, netting or chains, so as to prevent any part of the load or the covering from becoming loose, detached or leaving the vehicle while the vehicle is moving.

Even if you are driving slowly for just a couple of blocks you are still required to secure your load. The law is clear – every vehicle that travels on every publicly maintained road must have a secured load.

Each year, heavy items such as large truck tires, spools of wire, and large pieces of wood fall from vehicles and end up on our roadways creating hazards for motorists. Even with a small load, items can shift and become loose or airborne.

What is a secured load?

A load is secure when nothing can slide, shift, fall, or sift onto the roadway, or become airborne.

To secure your load:

  • Cover your load with a tarp. Covering your load with a tarp and then securely fastening the tarp to the vehicle, is good way to ensure that your load is secure.
  • Tie down using rope, netting, straps or chains. Tie large items directly to your vehicle. Make sure that any covering is securely tied down.
  • Put lighter items lower and place heavier items on top to help keep them in place and secure the heavy items to your vehicle.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double-check that your load is secure.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there any chance of debris or cargo falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
  • Is my load secured at the back, sides, and top?
  • What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump or if another vehicle hit mine?
  • Would I want my loaded vehicle driving through my neighborhood?
  • Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle?

The CHP stresses that secure loads prevent injuries, save lives and prevents litter. Roughly 40 percent of litter on highways comes from unsecured loads and it is estimated that road litter causes 25,000 accidents in North America each year, nearly 100 of which are fatal. Here in California road debris causes an average of 400 accidents each year on state highways.

The CHP will be conducting maximum enforcement on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2014. Make sure to cover those loads prior to transporting.

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