For The Reporter:
Mayor Denis Law has proclaimed June 6 to 12, 2018, as “Secure Your Load Week” in the city of Renton. To ensure drivers are following the law, Renton Police Department will be conducting on-going special emphasis to stop violators.
“Drivers must be aware of their responsibility to secure their loads,” said Law in a press release. “Too often we’ve read about the devastating effects a lost load can have on a family, including a tragic case here in Renton.”
During their patrols, Renton police officers will emphasize educating motorists on proper ways to secure their loads.
The police department will also issue citations to commercial vehicles that are in violation of the law.
For years, Renton resident Robin Abel has been leading the way in educating lawmakers, businesses and individuals about the dangers of driving with unsecured loads.
In 2004, Abel’s daughter, Maria Federici, was blinded and nearly killed after being struck by a piece of particle board that flew out of a trailer on Interstate 405.
At the time of the accident, there was no federal or state laws that made it a crime to operate a vehicle with a poorly secured load. In this case the driver was cited for a traffic infraction and fined.
It was through Abel’s efforts in 2005 that the Washington state Legislature passed House Bill 1478, which increased the fines and penalties for drivers transporting unsecured loads.
Known as “Maria’s Law,” the vehicle operator can now be charged with a misdemeanor and criminal negligence if all or part of their load shifts or falls and causes substantial bodily harm to another.
The law requires cargo to be secured by tarps, netting or other tie-down materials.
“Unsecured loads and road debris are not freak accidents but frequent incidents and most are preventable with just a few minutes of time and a few dollars in equipment,” said Robin Abel, “I thank the city of Renton for this proclamation and for enthusiastically embracing this safety message. The city and its law enforcement professionals have gone out of their way to participate in Secure Your Load Day June 6 to 12, and I am so grateful for their support,” says Abel in the release.
In Washington state, the fine for transporting an unsecured load is $228. If an item falls off a vehicle and causes bodily harm, the driver faces gross misdemeanor charges and penalties of up to $5,000 and/or up to a year in prison. In addition, unsecured loads arriving at King County transfer facilities or the landfill will be charged an additional $25 fee.
If you see someone traveling with an unsecured load, the Renton Police Department encourages you to call 911.
Both the state of Washington Department of Ecology and King County’s Solid Waste Division have produced brochures with tips for securing loads, as does. The county has also produced an instructional brochure that is available in English and Spanish.
King County’s Solid Waste Division offers these tips to secure your load:
• Use a tarp. Covering items with a large, sturdy tarp is often a good way to secure a load. Remember to make sure the tarp is securely fastened to the vehicle.
• Tie the load down. Use rope, netting, straps or chains to tie large items directly to your vehicle.
• Layer the load. Put lighter items at the bottom and heavier items on top to help keep them in place. Don’t forget to secure the heavy items to your vehicle.
• Don’t overload it. Cramming too much stuff onto a vehicle increases the risk of items shifting, sliding or falling onto the roadway.
• Check it once, then check it again. Double check that items are securely anchored and any tarps are tied to the vehicle.