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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Tuesday, June 06, 2017
Media Contact: Brandy Brubaker
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Virginians Urged to Make Sure Cargo is Safely Secured in Vehicle
"Secure Your Load" Day Emphasizes Importance of Safe Hauling

RICHMOND – Whether hauling a truck bed full of lumber, bringing home a big screen TV, or helping a family member move furniture, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and AAA Mid-Atlantic urge motorists to always take the time to properly secure your cargo before you begin to drive.

Tuesday, June 6 is Secure Your Load Day, an occasion to emphasize the importance of safe cargo transportation. In Virginia, if cargo falls from your vehicle, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“Quickly tying down your cargo and keeping your fingers crossed for safe travel may seem convenient in the short term, but can lead to serious tragedies when your vehicle is on the road,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Not only is it unsafe to make an adjustment on the side of the road after your cargo has fallen out of your vehicle, it can be deadly if something you’re carrying hits the vehicle behind you.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, roadway debris was a factor in more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014, resulting in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. About two-thirds of these crashes were caused by items that fell from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads.

To safely secure a load, drivers should:

  • Tie down their load with rope, netting or straps
  • Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
  • Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
  • Not overload the vehicle
  • Always double check the load to make sure it is secure

To protect yourself from the unsecured cargo of other motorists, practice defensive driving techniques while on the road to prevent debris-related crashes from occurring.

“Continually searching the road at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead can help drivers be prepared in the case of debris,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Always try to maintain open space on at least one side of your vehicle in case you need to steer around an object. If you see you are unable to avoid debris on the roadway, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact.”

Leaving a safe following distance from the car in front of you and avoiding distraction behind the wheel can also help to prevent crashes. Additional tips on defensive driving and how to report road debris to the proper authorities are available online at

Seattle mother Robin Abel started the Secure Your Load campaign to raise awareness after her daughter was severely and permanently injured – and nearly killed – due to an unsecured load in a vehicle traveling ahead of her

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