Secure loads, save lives

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is continuing a partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and reminding drivers to drive safely, secure all loads, and avoid litter and debris in the roadways. The agency urges all drivers to remember – it is everyone’s responsibility to secure cargo and make sure loads do not fall or spill during transport because improperly secured cargo poses a safety risk on Alabama roadways.

“Many drivers think that only commercial vehicle drivers are responsible for securing their cargo,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. “We want citizens to know that it is every driver’s responsibility to ensure their cargo is properly secured to their vehicle to protect other vehicles, drivers, and bystanders. Troopers within ALEA’s Motor Carrier Safety Unit (MCSU) are dedicated to educating drivers, as well as companies, about the importance of properly securing loads in any vehicle or trailer before transporting to reduce unsecured-load incidents and prevent crashes on Alabama’s roadways.”

State laws across America make it illegal for drivers to operate a non-commercial motor vehicle with an unsecured load. State-specific penalties for violating these laws can run upwards of $5,000. In addition, crashes resulting from debris or falling objects can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries, making the proper securing of loads vital to safely transporting cargo.

Email newsletter signup

According to ALEA reports approximately 16,678 people were injured per year across America from 2016 to 2020 when vehicles collided with another object that was improperly secured. An average of 732 people lost their lives each year during the same period and non-commercial passenger vehicles accounted for 81% of those crashes.

Citizens across the country observed June 6 as National Secure Your Load Day and ALEA has partnered with People Against a Littered State (PALS) in Alabama to spread information and bring awareness to the importance of securing loads and preventing litter on Alabama roadways. 

The agency first teamed up with PALS in 2020 to develop Litter Law Brochures which were distributed to by ALEA Public Affairs Officers and placed in Driver License Examining Offices. In March, the partnership launched a statewide anti-litter campaign in an effor to save lives, prevent property damage, and keep Alabama roadways beautiful.

ALEA Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Colonel Jon Archer reminds motorists that dropping trash or debris from a vehicle is against the law and extremely dangerous. Alabama law allows fines up to $3,000 and 100 hours of community services for a misdemeanor littering offense.

“Amidst the flurry of daily activities, it is vital not to underestimate the significance of diligently securing your vehicle’s cargo,” Archer said. “Before transporting a load, inspect and make sure to secure your load from every angle – top, sides, and rear – leaving no room for anything to be blown away or fall out. Ensure your load is safe even in unexpected scenarios such as sudden braking, encountering speed bumps, or potential collisions with other vehicles.”

Motorists can follow these tips for securing cargo:

  • Tie down loads with rope, netting, or straps;
  • Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer;
  • Cover the load with a sturdy tarp or net;
  • Avoid overloading the vehicle or trailer; and
  • Double-check loads to ensure it is secure.

For more information on ALEA’s campaign, visit www.secureyourload.com. To learn more about PALS and how to keep Alabama roadways litter-free, visit  www.alpals.org.