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News / Clark County News

Hundreds of crashes in Washington each year blamed on unsecured loads; Clark County hopes to change that

County offers free tips, tools to help residents secure loads, keep roads safer and cleaner

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 6, 2024, 6:03am

Whether you’re hauling a load of trash to the transfer station, coming home with new furniture or carrying lumber home for a new project, Clark County’s Solid Waste division is reminding drivers to keep roads safe and clean for everyone by properly securing your load. The county, in partnership with the state Department of Ecology, is launching a monthlong “Secure Your Load for Safer Roads” campaign.

The campaign coincides with national Secure Your Load Day today, which commemorates the lives lost and injuries caused by unsecured loads. This is the first year the county has partnered with Ecology on the program.

“We have promoted proper load securement for several years for national Secure Your Load Day. But as partners in this campaign, the Department of Ecology provided Clark County with load securement tools (cargo nets and rachet straps) and educational resources to distribute at no cost to transfer station customers,” Camille Shelton, senior specialist with the county’s Public Health department, said Wednesday.

According to a news release Tuesday, about 300 crashes in Washington each year are attributed to unsecured loads.

“The Clark County Solid Waste team conducted a recent study across several transfer station locations to gather data about load securement. Through that study, we learned that Clark County’s unsecured load rate is over 30 percent, meaning more than one-third of all customers arrive at the transfer station hauling cargo in an unsafe or dangerous manner due to lack of adequate securement,” Shelton said.

The county is also working to reduce the presence of litter along roadways. An estimated 40 percent of roadside litter comes from unsecured loads, the release said. This pollution often ends up in waterways and sensitive habitat areas.

Staff from Clark County’s solid waste division will be on hand at the Central and West Van transfer stations throughout June. Staff members will share educational materials about how to properly secure loads. They will also be handing out cargo nets and ratchet straps to transfer station customers with unsecured loads.

Residents receiving the free items will be asked to pledge that they will properly secure all vehicle loads in the future.

The Washington State Patrol will be on the lookout for unsecured loads. Fines can be as high as $5,000 with potential jail time.

To ensure vehicle loads are secure every time, Clark County Solid Waste encourages drivers to ask themselves these questions before taking to the road:

  • Would I feel my family was safe if they were driving behind me?
  • Will my load stay secure if I have to brake suddenly, hit a bump, turn a corner or go uphill?
  • Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
  • If it rains, will any of my cargo break down?
  • Did I double-check my load to make sure it’s secure?

To learn more about properly securing vehicle loads, visit www.clarkgreenneighbors.org.

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