Secure Your Load

"It was chilling."

That is how Mandy Poff, a 37-year-old nurse for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, described the moment she nearly lost her life because of an unsecured load.

“Even now, what I think of every time that I get into a car is the sound it made coming in and the feeling of the glass. I am still processing it,” she said. Poff was on her way to work when a utility truck hit a bump in the road. A metal pole fell off and smashed right through her windshield. 

Recent Data

Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows what happens when a load is left unsecured. In 2020 there were:

  • 82,479 crashes
  • 16,595 injuries
  • 715 deaths

(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) 


Debris Collision Totals for 2019 - 2023 YTD (Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety​) 

It's okay to call 9-1-1 when you see road debris. you could save someone's life

It's the Law

Arizona law states, “A person shall not drive or move a vehicle on a highway unless the vehicle is constructed or loaded in a manner to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping from the vehicle.” (A.R.S. 28-1098.A).

The Arizona Department of Public Safety points out that violators could be charged with a class two misdemeanor. The fines, plus court costs, can range from $460 to over $1,000, depending on injuries. 

Secure Your Load Day

To raise awareness about the potentially catastrophic dangers of loose debris and unsecured loads, June 6th is national "Secure Your Load Day." The national date honors Matthew Reif, an Arizona man killed after a piece of loose metal bounced off the pavement and impaled the windshield of the car he was driving. That accident happened on June 6, 2006. 

Tips for Securing Your Load

Tie it Down

Large or heavy items should be firmly secured with solid straps, rope, bungee cords, or netting. Tie large items directly to your vehicle. Tied down materials must be able to withstand wind up to 70 miles per hour on the highway. At that speed, the wind is providing about a 20-pound-per-square-foot push, which can dislodge those loads and push them off your vehicle. Do not use restraints if they are frayed, cut, or damaged. Tie large objects directly to your vehicle or trailer.

Cover it Up

For loose, lighter items such as tree clippings, a sturdy plastic or canvas tarp or netting can be used to keep items in place. Tie the tarp securely or it might become road debris as well.

Lighter Goes Lower

Put lighter weight things at the bottom of the load and make sure they are secure. Evenly distribute the load to prevent it from sliding.

Do Not Overload

Keep material level with truck bed or trailer unless tied down, netted or under a tarp.


Double-check your load to make sure it is secure at the back and on the sides and top. Remember that loads can move and settle during a journey, allowing restraints to loosen. If possible, recheck restraints shortly after beginning your trip.

Make Sure It's Roadworthy

Ensure both the vehicle and trailer are in good mechanical condition and roadworthy. Check that your vehicle is rated to tow the load. Remember that your load will make your vehicle less maneuverable and it will take longer to stop.

Ask Yourself

Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle? Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle? What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump?