Secure your load - prevent litter and traffic accidents

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Vehicle in Shoreline
Photo by Jim Talbot

This week marked the second anniversary of the We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign. Roadside litter is an expensive and unrelenting problem in Washington. 

Ecology and the Department of Transportation spend a combined $12 million a year on efforts to clean the state’s roads and highways. Last year alone, Ecology-funded pickup programs spent more than 150,000 hours collecting 5.4 million pounds of litter and cleaning more than 21,000 miles of road.

“Debris from unsecured loads causes more than 15 million pounds of litter on Washington’s roads every year,” said Amber Smith-Jones, Ecology’s statewide litter prevention coordinator. 
“Securing your load and keeping your truck bed clean and free of loose debris saves lives and ensures nothing will blow out. It also saves taxpayer dollars by eliminating the need to clean it up.”

Highway debris causes more than 300 crashes every year, and more than 40% of roadside litter is attributable to unsecured loads. 

The state Department of Ecology encourages travelers to keep straps and tarps handy to secure loads, and to completely seal and secure loads so they aren’t jostled loose while traveling. 

The department also encourages drivers to call 911 to report unsecured loads, which can endanger others. 

Fines may reach up to $5,000 and some local jurisdictions have even stricter laws.

Tarps, straps and cargo nets are easy and effective solutions for securing many types of vehicle loads and preventing road hazards, and are available at any hardware store or online. Ecology is working with retail hardware stores across Washington to share best practices and products to safely secure loads.

To learn more about this campaign and how you can help keep Washington roads safe and litter free, visit or


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