The Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Traffic Commission Safety are urging drivers to "Secure Your Load For Safer Roads"

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that in 2019, crashes involving road debris resulted in 739 deaths, 17,367 injuries

Every year in Washington unsecured loads cause about 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries. In 2021, unsecured loads also caused multiple fatalities.

Litter on state highways

Ecology officials say 12 million pounds of litter is tossed or blown onto Washington roadways every year.  Up to 40% is from unsecured cargo and debris flies out of pickup truck beds, trailers, and boats.  Ecology-funded litter pickup programs like Ecology Youth Corps, Community Litter Cleanup Program, Washington departments of Corrections, Natural Resources, and Fish and Wildlife crews collected nearly 5.2 million pounds of litter along almost 22,000 miles of state roadsides in 2021.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is spending $4 million annually  cleaning the state’s roads and highways.  Ecology is spending another $4.5 million a year on it's pickup efforts.

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In the past two years, litter from PPE (person protective equipment) related to COVID-19 like disposable masks and gloves has been found in larger volume in public spaces and along roads and highways. In one area of I-5 in King County, an Ecology litter crew found approximately 60 masks per mile.


A 20-pound object, like a TV, at 55 mph has a force of 1,000 pounds at impact on a following vehicle.

Cargo nets and straps are easy and effective solutions to secure many types of vehicle loads and prevent road hazards.

Keep a litter bag in your vehicle. Clean out any loose garbage that could fly out of your truck bed, trailer, or boat while driving

Washington State Patrol pulls over more than 5,000 vehicles and writes more than 350 citations for having an unsecured vehicle load and debris falling from vehicles.


The We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign is timed with National Secure Your Load Day on June 6, which commemorates people whose lives were impacted or taken by unsecured loads and encourages drivers to properly secure their loads every time they drive.

As a part of the campaign, state troopers are conducting emphasis patrols across the state for three consecutive weekends, starting June 10 and ending June 26.  Fines for littering and unsecured loads range from $50 to $5,000.  Debris that causes bodily harm or property damage could subject the responsible driver to gross misdemeanor charges and jail time. The largest fines are for “lit debris” — primarily cigarettes — and items that can cause car crashes.

Trooper Chris Thorson reminds smokers of the wildfire potential in Eastern Washington. "So if you are someone who smokes in your car, that's fine. There's nothing illegal about that. But please do not throw lit material outside of your vehicle. If that lands on brush along the shoulder or in the median and if you add just a little bit of wind to that, it immediately takes off.".

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