Secure your load, prevent roadside litter, save lives

Santa Fe –The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) recognizes June 6 as “Secure Your Load Day,” a traffic safety campaign encouraging drivers to properly secure their loads to prevent roadway litter and crashes.

“People don’t realize they are putting lives at risk when they don’t take the time to secure their cargo,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Justin Reese. “Dropping trash, or debris from your vehicle is against the law and extremely dangerous.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, at 55 miles per hour, a 20-pound object that falls from a vehicle strikes with an impact of 1,000 pounds. That’s the equivalent of a 6 person hot tub or 4 full-size refrigerators falling on your windshield.

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data for 2019 showed unsecured loads and road debris contributed to 739 deaths, more than 17,000 injuries and nearly 90,000 property damage crashes.

Washington resident Robin Abel started the national ‘Secure Your Load’ movement in 2004 after an unsecured load blinded and nearly killed her daughter, who was struck by a piece of particle board that flew out of a trailer ahead of her vehicle. At that time, there were no federal or state laws making unsecured loads a crime.

New Mexico law requires drivers to secure their loads or face a $300 fine for dropping trash or debris on state roadways.

Fallen material from vehicles makes up about half of the debris littering roads, adding to  the public cost of roadside litter pick-up. In 2020, the NMDOT accrued nearly 89,000 labor hours picking up road debris at a cost of $3.2 million.

To secure cargo in your vehicle or trailer:

  • Don’t overload or rely on the weight of your cargo to hold objects in place
  • Tie loads down with rope, netting, or straps
  • Cover the load with a sturdy tarp, especially when hauling loose material like
    branches, logs, or miscellaneous objects
  • Always double check to make sure your load is secure to prevent shifting
  • Animals should be properly secured as well
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