PHOENIX (June 3, 2021) — Arizona drivers are opting for road trips now more than ever. Don’t Trash Arizona wants National Secure Your Load Day this Sunday, June 6, to serve as an important reminder that large debris can quickly turn into a dangerous and potentially deadly situation for freeway drivers.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports more than 700 deaths, over 17,000 injuries and nearly 90,000 property damages nationwide due to crashes caused by unsecured loads. New data from the Arizona Department of Public Safety show that road debris also is a significant safety issue in Arizona, accounting for 1,075 accidents and seven deaths in 2020.
Those who have experienced debris-related accidents firsthand emphasize the importance of securing your load. One Valley resident recounts a recent experience in which he was blindsided by highway litter.
“It was scary,” says Jeffrey, a Mesa resident (last name withheld by request). “I was driving on the US 60 at night. Out of nowhere, I saw this large piece of metal in the road, and the next thing you know my car quickly swerved due to the impact. Luckily, I was able to navigate safely off the freeway, but I was injured in the accident and am now out a couple thousand dollars for car repairs. It’s made me more vigilant about large debris that could potentially cause harm to others on the road.”
According to The Household Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, 35 percent of adults in the Maricopa region have a trip planned at least 100 miles away in June. Unsecured loads not only pose a danger to drivers, but they also can create longer travel times. As vaccination rates continue to increase and more people feel comfortable traveling again, many may opt for road travel.
“As more Arizonans start to venture out on road trips this summer, we want to emphasize the importance of securing all items before you hit the road to ensure dangerous debris stays off of our freeways, “ says Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Chair Jerry Weiers, mayor of Glendale. “We have a saying, secure your load as if everyone you love is riding in the car behind you.” MAG oversees the Don’t Trash Arizona program, which focuses on keeping roads clear of litter, including dangerous debris.
“Road debris is more than a litter problem,” said Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Incident Response Unit Program Administrator David Blue. “Debris is a very serious matter and ADOT has increased its efforts to tackle the issue. Our Incident Response Unit team strategically patrols Valley freeways handling blocking and non-blocking debris calls. This service provides a rapid response to pick up debris to prevent traffic incidents. The smallest disruptions can have a significant impact on the transportation system. The result of this strategic service provides better customer service to the motoring public.”
Road debris is an absolute emergency. If you see dangerous debris on highways, it is okay to dial 9-1-1. It’s a priority that Valley freeways are safe for every driver.
“Summer is a peak travel time for motorists,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jenna Mitchell of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “Unsecured loads present a significant hazard to the motoring public and can be easily avoided by spending just a few extra moments to properly secure your load.”
To see a video and find out more information on how to secure your load before you hit the road, visit DontTrashArizona.com/SecureYourLoad.
# # #