After a woman was blinded on the I-405 in Seattle, Washington lawmakers have instated a new law that makes not securing your load a more serious offense.

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Unsecured Loads And Improperly Secured Loads Are Illegal In Washington State

How important is it to properly tie down your load when you are carrying materials in your pickup truck, in a trailer, or on top of your car? Not only does properly securing your load before you get behind the wheel ensure that you will not lose any of your possessions, it also prevents potentially serious traffic accidents from taking place.

Just ask Maria Federici of Renton, Washington. In 2004, the woman was driving on I-405 near Seattle when her car was struck with a board that flew off of a U-Haul trailer. Renton suffered several injuries to her face and is blinded for life. In the wake of the accident, she sued the driver of the trailer as well as U-Haul for $15.5 million, stating that the company did not provide the driver of the trailer with any safety information regarding tying down loads.

In another Seattle accident involving an unsecured load, a 10-gallon bucket flew off of a vehicle and landed in a lane on the floating bridge. When a car swerved to miss the bucket, it crashed, causing a chain reaction accident as vehicle behind the car were not able to avoid the wreck. Six people were injured in the crash. In 2009, a steel ramp fell off of a tractor-trailer on I-5 in Washington State causing extensive property damage to a number of vehicles, including a car fire. Just days before, on the very same road, a 14-inch pipe fell off a truck and crashed through the windshield of a man driving behind the big rig. The driver was within inches of serious injury.

In the past, the penalty for not properly tying down a load in Washington State was nothing more than a $250 ticket. However, in the wake of Federici’s accident and injury, a law was passed so that if someone causes an injury or death because of an improperly secured load, they could face a $5,000 fine, a year in prison, and a gross misdemeanor on their permanent record. A driver whose improperly secured load causes property damage may also be charged with a misdemeanor.

What can you do to prevent accidents caused by unsecured loads? Always properly tie down anything you are carrying on your car or in your truck or trailer. If you see debris on the road that could cause an accident, call 911 to report the danger.