Image of blue square with the text "Secure Your Load For Safer Roads!"

As a part of Washington’s new We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be conducting statewide emphasis patrols over four weekends from May 28 to June 20. The patrols will coincide with National Secure Your Load Day, which takes place annually on June 6th to remind motorists about the importance of secure loads and litter prevention.

Unsecured loads and road debris cause serious traffic safety risks. According to WSP Sgt. Darren Wright, “Every year, road debris contributes to an average of nearly 90,000 property-related crashes on U.S. roadways. More than 17,000 people are injured from those crashes and over 700 are fatal. . .These crashes are entirely preventable and the power to stop them is in the hands of Washington drivers.” Debris on Washington State highways cause about 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries every year. More than 12 million pounds of litter ends up on Washington roadways and up to 40% – almost 5 million pounds – comes from unsecured cargo and debris blowing out of pickup truck beds.

State troopers as well as environmental and road officials are always on the lookout for drivers with unsecured loads to keep roadways safe, clean, and clear. Violations for littering and unsecured loads are punishable with fines from $50 to $5000 and potential jail time for severe offenses that cause bodily harm or property damage.

Secure Your Load Day began with activist Robin Abel, the force behind Maria’s Law, which criminalizes improperly secured loads. Abel pushed for the law after her 24-year-old daughter Maria Federici suffered near-fatal injuries which left her blinded after unsecured particleboard from a rented trailer smashed through her car’s windshield on I-405 in Renton. Abel’s work has spread, attracting over 40 other states and territories to participate in Secure Your Load Day.

Tips for Truck Drivers

Unsecured loads cause injuries and fatalities that are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to help make sure your load is secure:

  • Binders, chains, nettings, and tarps must be securely fastened to the trailer.
  • Make sure unused dunnage, broken pallets, or other loose debris are cleared off your trailer.
  • Freight should be neatly stacked and tightly fastened inside trailers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double check to make sure your trailer doors are properly closed.
  • Keep your cab clean to make sure trash or debris do not fly out of the window.

If you see someone traveling with an unsecured load, pull over to a safe area and call 911 to report it.

Visit the following links for additional information and resources:

Washington State Department of Ecology:

Litter prevention website

Load securement tips

Tip sheet in English

Tip sheet in Spanish

Secure You Load Safety video

Washington State Patrol:

Secure Your Load video

King County:

Load securement resources and information

Secure Your Load for Safer Roads video

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Driver’s Handbook on cargo securement