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Crackdown law could see drivers hit with $5,000 fine

Mar 24, 2024

AFTER her child was nearly killed in a horrific car accident, a mother has advocated for national change regarding traffic laws.

The Washington mother has pushed her state to pass Maria's Law, which requires drivers to secure loose items in the back of their trailers or truck beds.

There is always a risk when it comes to driving, but driving behind a trailer full of loose items on the freeway can be particularly nerve-wracking.

Robin Abel had to face her worse nightmare when her daughter Maria was nearly killed after a loose load in front of her was spewed at her car back in 2004.

Her daughter suffered serious injuries and was left blind.

Just a year after the accident, Washington passed a law to punish individuals who drive with unsecured loads.

The following year, Washington passed Maria’s Law, introducing further punishments for drivers with unsecured loads.

Those who break the law could be hit with a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $5,000.

Unsecured loads are credited with causing more than 300 crashes in the state each year.

In addition to the potential dangers, unsecured loads are also linked to pollution.

40% of roadside litter comes from unsecured loads, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The Revised Code of Washington now clarifies the regulations around driving with items in the back of a vehicle.

“No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public highway unless such vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping therefrom, except that sand may be dropped for the purpose of securing traction," the text explains.

Directions for securing loads are now incorporated in the Washington State Driver Guide and the American Automobile Motor Vehicle Association driver’s guides.

Some recommendations include putting lighter things on the bottom and heavier things on top to hold them down.

Drivers can also use tarps to cover the load and keep items from blowing aware.

Large items can be tied down with a tarp, rope, netting, straps, or chains.

Officer Chris Thorson told the Tri-City Herald that all drivers should keep a tarp and rope in their vehicle.

“You can never strap down or tarp a load too much,” said Thorson. “It’s better to overdo it than go under.”

The law regarding secured loads applies to both commercial and personal vehicles.