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Caltrans Reminds Motorists to Secure Loads Before Traveling

Date: June 6, 2017
District: Headquarters
Contact: Tamie McGowen
Phone:(916) 657-5060

SACRAMENTO - Transporting unsecured loads is unsafe, illegal, and pollutes California's roads and waterways. Caltrans wants motorists and commercial vehicle operators to make sure their load is secure before driving. Vehicle-related debris can create unsafe conditions for motorists, contributes to litter on highways and could lead to pollution in waterways.

A vehicle moves towards a tanker truck to avoid debris in a lane on State Route 55 near Interstate 5 in Orange County.

- Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

"This is a safety, environmental, economic, and aesthetic issue that is 100 percent preventable.We spent more than $67 million last year picking up litter and debris. By properly securing your load before you head out, you can help keep our roads clean and safe, and also protect our waterways from being contaminated."

Malcolm Dougherty, Director, Caltrans

A load is secure when nothing can slide, shift, fall, or sift onto the roadway. Here are some tips on properly securing a load:

  • Tie it down. Large or heavy items should be secured with solid straps, rope, bungee cords, or netting. Make sure your tie down materials are appropriate for the weight they are securing and can withstand highway speeds.
  • Cover it up. For loose items like grass or tree clippings, a tarp or netting can be used to keep items in place.
  • Don't dispose of litter in pick-up beds. Litter in pick-up beds can fly out when the vehicle reaches highway speed. Dispose of litter properly.
  • Re-check your load. Loads can shift and settle during a trip. If safe to do so, re-check your load during your trip. Tighten straps that may have loosened and adjust your load if necessary.

Litter collects near a storm drain on an exit ramp in Stockton.

- Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

A truck with an improperly secured load travels north on Interstate 5 in Orange County.

- Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

Litter and debris can clog stormwater drains and may end up in waterways. Caltrans' Protect Every Drop campaign educates Californians about the sources and pathways of stormwater pollution, and to change behaviors of the public to reduce stormwater pollution in and around the state highway system. Search #ProtectEveryDrop on Twitter or go to for more information.

According to California vehicle code 23115 (a) - "No vehicle transporting garbage, swill, used cans or bottles, wastepapers, waste cardboard, ashes, refuse, trash, or rubbish, or any noisome, nauseous, or offensive matter, or anything being transported for disposal or recycling shall be driven or moved upon any highway unless the load is totally covered in a manner that will prevent the load or any part of the load from spilling or falling from the vehicle."

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General Information Line: (916) 654-2852

Media Inquiries:
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Physical Address:

California Department of Transportation
1120 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mailing Address:

California Department of Transportation
1120 N Street
MS 49
Sacramento, CA 95814

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