Why you should secure your load?
Yes, it is the law in Maine: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/29-a/title29-asec2396.html The laws from state to state vary as do the associated fines but all are costly and easily avoidable. If circumstances dictate, you may actually be charged criminally and the penalty levied could result in imprisonment. In addition you can be held civilly liable and may be sued as a result of your negligence.
Throughout North America over 25,000 accidents are caused each year by litter and debris that is either purposely or accidentally cast from vehicles; nearly 100 of those accidents result in fatalities that are largely preventable.
Ask yourself if your load is secure?
- Is my load secured at the back, on the sides and on top?
- Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
- Would I feel safe being on the road with my loaded vehicle?
- What would happen if I had to make an abrupt evasive maneuver such as braking or swerving?
- Should I be driving slower that normal and/or should I be taking an alternative route?
- Did I double check my load to make sure it is secured?
What steps should I take to safely transport cargo in my vehicle?
Tie it Down: Large or heavy items should be firmly secured with durable & reliable straps, rope, bungee cords or netting. Traveling at a speed of 70 mph generates approximately 20 pounds of push per square foot. That pressure can shift & dislodge your load; never use restraints that are frayed, cut or damaged in any way.
Don’t overload: Keep material level with the bed of your truck unless tied down and otherwise secured to your vehicle.
Cover it up: For loose lighter items such as leaves, mulch or grass clippings, a durable plastic or canvas tarp can be used to keep items from blowing out. Put lighter weight cargo at the bottom of the load and distribute the load evenly to prevent it from sliding.
Double Check your load: Remember that loads will shift & settle during transit allowing restraints to loosen. Make a point to periodically stop and check your load for ensured safety. Don’t forget to check the restraints themselves as they can also turn into dangerous loose debris.
Modify your driving habits: Give yourself additional space between vehicles and slow down. It may be necessary to pull over and allow traffic to safely pass; additionally, you may want to take an alternative route with less pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic.
Don’t forget that in addition to harming others you may harm yourself as well. Motorcycles and bicycles often carry personal cargo & something as simple as a loose garment or anything attached to saddle bags can dislodge and tangle up in wheels and spokes; at high speeds this can be a fatal mistake.