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Transportation Department reminds drivers to secure loads

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The New Mexico Department of Transportation is reminding drivers on “National Secure Your Load Day” Thursday that they must take steps to ensure that materials are not thrown or dropped onto highways from their vehicles.

According to New Mexico law, drivers must secure their loads or face a $300 fine for littering on state highways. New Mexico statute 66-7-364 states, “No person shall throw, deposit, drop or permit to be dropped, any trash, or destructive, injurious material upon any highway.”

In 2016 nationwide, there were 683 deaths, more than 19,000 injuries and more than 90,000 traffic incidents related to unsecured loads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Transportation accrued almost 86,000 labor hours picking up road debris at the cost of $2.7 million, with an additional $2.5 million spent on inmate labor costs.

Crashes caused by road debris and unsecured loads are avoidable,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval. “Drivers need to spend the extra time and a few extra dollars to ensure nothing is going to fly off their vehicle and cause a fatal crash or injury to innocent people traveling behind them.”

A “Secure Your Load” traffic safety campaign Thursday reminds drivers of some simple life-saving precautions: 

• Don’t rely on the weight of a load to hold it in place.

• Use rope, netting, straps or cords to tie loads down.

• Tie large objects like chairs or mattresses directly to the vehicle or trailer.

• Cover the load with a sturdy tarp or netting, especially when hauling loose material like branches, logs or miscellaneous objects like furniture that can fly out of the vehicle.

• Don’t overload the vehicle.

• Always double check to make sure a load is secure.