The Dangers of Unsecured Loads

Are you done snickering yet?


How about now?

Okay. So we're talking about unsecured loads today - a very glamorous subject, as per the usual.

There are different categories of litter - from intentional and accidental, to illegal dumping, to unsecured loads - the kind where all the crap in the back of a truck or in a trailer isn't properly contained and it flies out while traveling.

When I participated in the litter index survey for Keep Lafayette Beautiful a few months ago, as we were riding around, we came across this massive collection of Pepsi bottles on the curb and in the road. So of course, we turned around and stopped to help clean it up. The driver had a regular truck and trailer, and they were hauling cases of the soft drinks to their destination. He and his passenger did stop to clean up their own mess (thank you!!!), and were appreciative that we were there to help so quickly after it happened. The driver explained that when they rounded a turn, some of the cases fell off the trailer and into the grass and road.

We got all the litter cleaned up, but this is still a loss of resources and money. And unfortunately, many loads that get lost or dropped don't get cleaned up so quickly. The litter can be left behind for days or even weeks, or can be swept into storm drains or waterways.

So, whether it's cases of soft drinks, bags of yard waste, bags of trash, or even furniture - always secure the load you're transporting! If your stuff falls out and litters the roadway or roadside, it's still your fault, and you're still littering.

Photo: Metro Waste Authority

The dangers of unsecured loads go beyond litter and pollution. Items that fall out of a truck bed or trailer (or car trunk) can pose a serious hazard to the cars behind you, and can cause wrecks.

According to the Department of Transportation:
At 55 miles per hour, an object weighing just 20 pounds that falls from a vehicle strikes with the impact of half a ton.

Robin Abel, whose daughter was blinded in a car wreck caused by a loose piece of furniture, advocated for a Washington state law that brings jail time and fines to those who cause a death or injury by failing to tie down a load. According to this same article, as of 2014, only 15 states had laws that include criminal penalty for failing to tie down loads. Only 10 states had education programs on the safety and importance of securing loads.

What about Louisiana?, you may be asking.

Ahem. LRS 32:383 states:

(2)  Any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material being transported by a commercial hauler shall be covered while being transported in such a manner as to prevent the load from spilling or dropping from the vehicle.
(3)  Any violation of Paragraph (2) of this Subsection for failure to cover any load of garbage, refuse, sludge, and other discarded material shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
(4)  The penalty provisions of Paragraph (3) of this Subsection shall not apply when the load was properly covered and subsequently became uncovered as the result of an accident or circumstances beyond the control of the operator of the vehicle.

Louisiana can fine up to $500 or assign jail time up to six months, or both, for unsecured loads, unless the spill was purely an accident. And this applies to regular vehicles, cargo trucks, and freight containers on the road and waterways.

So, when you're packing up items to transport, always make sure everything is secure. It will save you money from fines, it will save other drivers from avoidable hazards, and it will save the environment from your litter and pollution.

Hey, let's bring it full circle - LOVE THE BOOT, DON'T POLLUTE!

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