On August 19, 2017, The Columbian published an article entitled “Falling Wood Injures Biker.” It reported a motorcyclist was hit by a large piece of wood that fell from an unsecured load two miles north of Battle Ground. The driver of the flatbed truck that lost the wood was charged with first degree failure to secure his load.
Securing your load is more than just a good practice; it's actually a crime if some or all of your load falls onto the roadway.
According to RCW 46.61.655, any vehicle being driven on a public highway needs to be loaded so as to prevent any of its load from dropping, shifting, leaking or in any way escaping from either the bed of the truck, the top of the car, or any trailer that it is towing.
The RCW, provides that:
- You will get a traffic infraction if you lose your load and get caught.
- If you lose your load and it damages someone else's vehicle or property, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
- If your unsecured load injures someone, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor.
There are real world consequences associated with unsecured loads. The statutes are in place for a reason, and with so many people on the roads making any number of trips while moving homes, picking up furniture, or transporting items to the dump, it's especially important to be careful and make sure that your load is fastened down each and every time. Make sure that when checking your load before your trip, account for the fact that there will be a lot of wind and items will shift around while driving. It is good practice to check your load mid-trip to make sure it is still secure.
If you want to read further into this topic, or need some advice about it, King County’s website has a helpful FAQ section on securing loads.