Many a Southerner has loaded up random items in the back of a pick-up truck during their lifetime. Whether it was to help a friend move, take out the trash, or load up supplies for a camping trip, those truck beds come in handy. However, as the phrase goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” It is up to those driving the trucks to make the choice every time to secure their load and drive safely on our roads.
As trucks continue down the road, unsecured items can fall out landing in and around the roadway. Unsecure loads can lead to litter, which in turn causes water pollution, harm to animals, and costs tax dollars. The Georgia Department of Transportation has spent $14 million in a single year picking up roadside litter and those costs continue to rise.
If someone, doesn’t properly secure their cargo they could end up being the one to pick it up…in an orange jumpsuit. If someone dumps litter weighing more than 10 pounds, it could land them with a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, and they may be directed to pick up the litter. According to Georgia’s Comprehensive Litter Prevention and Abatement Act of 2006, litter can be defined as “any discarded or abandoned refuse, rubbish, junk, or other waste material” meaning that items improperly secured that fall out of truck beds count as litter.
Unsecure loads have also been the cause of multiple accidents, injuries, and even death. A 2012 congressional study revealed that in 2010 alone, unsecured loads and road debris caused 440 deaths and 10,000 injuries. Heidi Coffee lost her husband in 2006 when a shelving unit fell out due to it not being properly secured. As she stated on news station, KIRO 7, “The little choices that we make can have huge consequences.” The little choice of securing your load can save the lives and heartache of those around you.
When you load up your cargo next time, ask yourself a couple of questions. Would I feel safe driving behind my vehicle? Could litter from my vehicle fly out and end up causing harm? Make sure before you take off that you are 100% certain that your load is secure so that you can drive knowing that you have taken every precaution available.
Don’t rely on the weight of items to keep them in your truck. Bumps, turns, and sudden stops can dislodge even heavy items like furniture, tools, and equipment. Consider buying a cover if you don’t often haul large bulky items in your truck. Not only do covers improve fuel economy and keep your goods dry, they keep material in the bed, keep thieves out, and look good doing it.
All trash or recyclables should be in sturdy bags and covered by a strong tarp or cargo netting. If you throw trash into your truck bed, secure a 5-gallon bucket with a lid in a corner of the bed, as a trash can. Tarps can be bought for under $20, including tie-downs, at most home improvement or automotive stores
So, feel free to continue hauling off your friend’s old sofa or bringing lumber to the construction site, just check the back of your truck first. On June 1st, 2018 DWSWA launched a Secure Your Load educational campaign and the first one thousand drivers willing to take the pledge to secure their load will receive a complimentary key chain that reminds them every time they get behind the wheel to make sure their load is secure.