National “Secure Your Load Day” is now recognized across the country on June 6th in response to tremendous safety concerns. It began in 2004 with the death of Maria Federici, a 24-year-old, when a large particle board fragment flew from a truck in front of her and smashed through her windshield. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that insecurely loaded materials cause thousands of accidents each year. Many of the accidents actually occur when a driver swerves to avoid a loose piece of debris and strikes another vehicle or object.
Maria Federici's mother, Robin Abel, was originally the primary force that has led to the existence of Secure Your Load Day. Following Maria's death, she launched her efforts to prevent these types of roadway accidents. In their home state of Washington, the legislature responded by implementing several measures that seek to reduce accidents resulting from unsecured materials and debris. Victims are now potentially eligible for Crime Victims Assistance benefits there too. In 2015, she was the recipient of an award for public service at an event in Chicago for her efforts.
Efforts in the Various States
Arizona has over 1,000 accidents each year that involve loose debris on the road. Each year, there are an estimated 13 such accidents that lead to a fatality. In 2006, Matthew Reif was killed when a piece of metal crashed through his windshield and killed him. Paul, his father, explained that his son was simply “minding his own business” that day when the object struck him. The Arizona Department of Public Safety has been the primary proponent in the state for heightening awareness regarding this problem.
Traditionally, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol had primarily enforced this problem among the larger commercial trucks. In recent years, they have begun enforcement of loads that appear insufficiently secured within passenger trucks and trailers. In 2018, they cited approximately 600 individuals for these violations. They are also heightening awareness of this concern through educational programs.
California implemented a law within their vehicle code that prohibits vehicles from operating on highways unless they are “loaded so as to prevent any of its contents from escaping the vehicle.” The legislative intent was summarized as being to prevent accidents that occur from these incidents that are clearly avoidable. They have since followed suit in recognition of Secure Your Load Day on June 6th.
Best Practices for Prevention from MDOT
- Loads should be tied with “rope, netting, or straps” from the top and on all sides.
- The majority of passenger pickup trucks and trailers are now equipped with points specifically for this purpose of load securement
- The load must be secured in a manner that it will withstand the force that the wind exerts when traveling
- Be sure to check that the load has not shifted shortly after you begin traveling
- Tarps must be particularly well-secured in the area near the front of the vehicle, which is where it encounters the greatest wind
- Always use safety chains when a trailer is being hauled