ten dollar bill

Covering your truckload while on the way to the landfill is more than just a courtesy to other drivers it’s the law. If that’s not enough incentive, consider this: Gila County Public Works will levy an additional $10 “unsecured load fee” if you arrive at Buckhead Mesa Landfill without a tarp or other cover securely containing debris or loose bags of trash in your truck. Grocery bags, paper, boxes and other airborne debris littering Highway 87 and the Buckhead Mesa Landfill road spurred reinforcement of Gila County’s adherence to Arizona law 28-1098.A, which states “a person shall not drive or move a vehicle on a highway unless the vehicle is constructed or loaded in a manner to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping from the vehicle.”

And if you think a $10 fee is unreasonable, Arizona Department of Public Safety reports violators can be charged with a class two misdemeanor. The fines, plus court costs, can range from $460 to over $1,000 – if injuries result from debris that originated from your vehicle. To raise awareness about the potentially catastrophic dangers of loose debris and unsecured loads, Governor Doug Ducey proclaimed June 6 as "Arizona Secure Your Load Day." The date is a sobering reminder of a 2006 tragedy when a piece of metal bounced off the pavement and impaled the windshield of a car – killing the driver. According to DPS, there are roughly 1,000 debris-related crashes throughout Arizona each year. In Maricopa County, there were 12 deaths in the last five years blamed on road debris. The proclamation of "Secure Your Load Day" is a reminder to drivers that if you see debris on any freeway, it's considered an emergency and you should call 911 right away to report it.

TIE IT DOWN

Large or heavy items should be firmly secured with solid straps, rope, bungee cords, or netting. Tie large items directly to your vehicle. Tied down materials must be able to withstand wind up to 70 miles per hour on the highway. At that speed, the wind is providing about a 20-pound-per-square-foot push, which can dislodge those loads and push them off your vehicle. Do not use restraints if they are frayed, cut, or damaged.

COVER IT UP

For loose, lighter items such as tree clippings, a sturdy plastic or canvas tarp or netting can be used to keep items in place. Tie the tarp securely or it might become road debris as well.

LIGHTER GOES LOWER

Put lighter weight things at the bottom of the load and make sure they are secure. Evenly distribute the load to prevent it from sliding.

DO NOT OVERLOAD

Keep material level with truck bed or trailer unless tied down, netted or under a tarp.

DOUBLE-CHECK

Double-check your load to make sure it is secure at the back and on the sides and top. Remember that loads can move and settle during a journey, allowing restraints to loosen. If possible, recheck restraints shortly after beginning your trip.

MAKE SURE IT'S ROADWORTHY

Ensure both the vehicle and trailer are in good mechanical condition and roadworthy. Check that your vehicle is rated to tow the load. Remember that your load will make your vehicle less maneuverable and it will take longer to stop.

ASK YOURSELF

Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle? Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle? What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump?

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