Every year in Washington, debris from unsecured vehicle loads causes more than 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries. Sadly, in 2022, this number included five fatalities attributed to debris in the roadway. Unsecured loads not only endanger drivers, pedestrians and roadside workers, they also lead to litter along our roadsides. Approximately 40 percent of roadside litter comes from unsecured items falling or blowing from vehicles. Across the state, this equals 15 million pounds each year.
To address this issue locally, Kitsap County Public Works, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and Leadership Kitsap have joined forces to launch the Secure Your Load for Safer Roads campaign. This initiative aims to reduce crashes, fatalities and litter by promoting the importance of strapping down and securing all items in every truck, trailer, and car load.
The campaign includes cargo net giveaway events, law enforcement emphasis patrols and strict enforcement of a $10 fee for customers arriving at county solid waste facilities with an unsecured or uncovered load.
The launch of the campaign coincides with National Secure Your Load Day, observed on June 6 in Washington state and nationwide. This day raises awareness about the importance of load security and honors those who have been affected or lost their lives due to unsecured loads.
To recognize the importance of load security in our community, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners recently passed a resolution proclaiming Secure Your Load Day in Kitsap County. The resolution also acknowledges the essential role played by solid waste facility staff in educating motorists about load security.
Two out of three drivers always secure their load, but we need everyone’s help. By coming together as a community, we can all make Kitsap’s roads safer and cleaner.
The Secure Your Load video, created by Kitsap County Solid Waste Division in partnership with Leadership Kitsap and Bremerton-Kitsap Access Television (BKAT), dramatically demonstrates why you should always secure your load.
Sign Up for Free Cargo Net
Securing your load is one of the easiest ways to help keep our roads safe and our county beautiful. And now, you can get a cargo net to help — for free. Take the pledge to reserve a net for pickup at one of two upcoming events. Supplies are limited.
Saturday, June 3 – Bremerton National Airport parking lot, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 16 – The Point Casino and Hotel parking lot, Kingston, noon – 4 p.m.
Free ratchet straps and car litter bags will also be available at both events, first come, first served. Limit one per customer, while supplies last.
Events are organized by Leadership Kitsap. Cargo tools are provided by Kitsap County Solid Waste Division and through generous sponsorship from The Point Casino & Hotel and Silverdale Lowes. Litter bags provided by Washington Departments of Transportation and Ecology.
Law Enforcement Emphasis Patrols
As part of National Secure Your Load Day, local and state law enforcement officials are conducting emphasis patrols in Kitsap County to find unsecured loads, stop drivers and hand out tickets to those whose loads are not properly secured in accordance with state law. State troopers will conduct emphasis patrols across Washington for three consecutive weekends between June 9 and 25.
Littering and driving with an unsecured vehicle load are against the law in Washington, with fines up to $5,000. If an item falls out and causes bodily harm or property damage, the driver could also face jail time.
Tips for Securing Vehicle Loads
Secure all items in every load, no matter how short the distance or how slow the speed.
It’s quick and easy to secure your load and save a life. Watch the campaign video to learn how, and follow these tips:
- Secure every load with straps, nets, tarps and other tie-downs to prevent items from falling out, sliding, shifting or becoming airborne.
- Securely fasten large items directly to your vehicle or trailer.
- Cover your entire load with a tarp or net to prevent smaller items from blowing out, and secure the cover.
- Double check your load to make sure all is secure.
- Don’t overload your vehicle.
- Talk with your friends, family and coworkers about the importance of load security and ask them to secure their loads.
Read more tips from Washington Department of Ecology.
Challenges of Roadside Litter Cleanup
Keeping Kitsap County roads clean has become increasingly difficult and costly following the decision to eliminate the use of inmate crews in 2021. These full-time crews were responsible for removing 5 tons of trash from 300 road miles each month and were the primary resource for helping control litter across the county. Although Kitsap County has developed new strategies for roadside cleanup, more litter accumulates than can be collected.
Roadside litter is an expensive and unrelenting problem across Washington. State agencies spend over $12 million annually on litter cleanup. In 2022 alone, they spent 150,000 hours removing 5.4 million pounds of litter. The key to solving this problem is to prevent litter from happening in the first place. Securing your load and using a car litter bag are easy ways to help.
$10 Fee for Unsecured Loads at Solid Waste Facilities
Starting Aug. 1, 2023, Kitsap County solid waste facilities will strictly enforce a $10 fee for customers arriving with an unsecured or uncovered load. The collected fees will go toward litter cleanup efforts.
Customers must show staff that their load is secure, without removing tarps, straps and tie-downs outside the facility.
This fee will be charged at:
- Olympic View Transfer Station
- Hansville Recycling and Garbage Facility
- Silverdale Recycling and Garbage Facility
- Olalla Recycling and Garbage Facility
State law requires solid waste facilities to charge a fee for unsecured and uncovered loads and county code authorizes staff to collect this fee. Facility customers will receive education throughout June and July, giving them time to get cargo tie-downs from local hardware stores or a giveaway event.
Spot a Dangerous Load on the Road? Call 911
Call 911 if you see a dangerous unsecured load or witness something fall from a vehicle that could cause a crash.
To report litter escaping from a commercial waste collection truck, email the Department of Ecology at Amber.Smith@ecy.wa.gov. Reports are sent to the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association, the group representing major trash haulers. Include the location, time, date, company name and truck number if available.