Secure Your Load or Pay The Toll

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By not properly securing your load, you can cause serious personal injury to other drivers and can even be held criminally responsible.

It’s that time of the year where people start cleaning out their garage and making trips to their local garbage facility. This means more drivers on the road with everything from scrap wood to couches stuffed in the back of their trucks which poses a serious threat to other drivers.

A few years back, “Maria’s Law”passed, which now requires drivers to secure their loads. The law was named after it’s main advocate, Maria Federici, who was severely injured and blinded when a home entertainment center came loose from the truck bed in front of her on I-405. Now the law states that it is a crime punishable by law to have an unsecured load that results in bodily harm to someone else. Perpetrators can be fined $5000 and spend up to a year in jail for their negligence.

As a Seattle personal injury attorney, I’ve handled much too many cases of people who are injured by the carelessness of others. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone’s life destroyed by the negligence of another person, especially when the situation was completely avoidable in the first place. As a driver, here are a few things that you can do to keep your loads secure and minimize the chance of debris coming loose and causing injury to someone.

  • Recheck your load while driving.  If you’re traveling a long distance, pull over every few miles to ensure everything is staying in it’s place.
  • If you’re driving behind someone with a load in their vehicle, give them an extra buffer zone and don’t follow too closely
  • If you worry that the load of the driver in front of you may come loose, may sure you’re able to move to one side of the other in case you need to avoid debris.
  • If small debris is on the road, it is sometimes safer to drive over the top of it than to swerve into another lane

If you witness a truck with an unsecure load that presents a hazard to other drivers, call 911 or Washington State Patrol right away.  Record the location of the vehicle, the direction it was traveling, the color of the vehicle and any other identifying characteristics, license plate number and what happened.  You could potentially save someone’s life by reporting a negligent driver.

More articles about securing your load can be found here and here.

-Kirk Bernard

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