Cover your load, it’s the law; uncovered loads are also extremely dangerous

Published 12:14 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

To the Editor:
Every year thousands of motorists are injured or killed on our highways. Even under the best of conditions, driving can be hazardous. Add bad weather or poor road maintenance to the equation and it can be downright dangerous just to go out. One factor that increases the risk associated with driving is road debris. Anyone who has had to swerve to avoid an object in the road understands the danger.
Don Hlavaty wrote, I was driving along Highway 321 at the I-26 interchange this week, when I noticed two pickup trucks loaded with what appeared to be construction debris. The lead pickup was pulling a trailer loaded with scrap wood. Plywood was used to keep the debris from falling off the sides of the trailer and two straps were the only thing keeping the entire load from sliding off the back. The second pickup had the bed piled high with debris, with no apparent method of securing it. Just as I was commenting to the passengers in my vehicle about how unsafe the loads appeared to be, debris came flying off one of them and landed right in front of me. Fortunately, I had enough room in front of my vehicle and was able to change lanes to avoid the debris. I was not sure that the vehicles behind me were able to avoid the hazard.
Safety is not the only issue with vehicles like these. Highway 321, between Johnson City and Elizabethton, is full of trash that flies off vehicles. Tennessee spends over 18 million dollars every year to remove litter and debris from our roads and waterways. Don’t you think there are more important things we could spend this money on? Don’t you think that our beautiful mountains and wildlife deserve a break from our apathy? Please be smart and start thinking about the impact you have on your surroundings every day.
Tennessee State Law requires: “Any motor vehicle that transports litter or any material likely to fall or be blown off onto the highways, shall be required to have such material either in an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarpaulin.” Were you aware that this includes pickup trucks? You should also know that violating this law is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, or both. If you see situations like I describe above, please report them to The Tennessee Department of Transportation at:
https://www.tn.gov/tdot/environmental-home/environmental-highway-beautification-office/litter.html

Edward “Ed” Jordan
Chairman KCCB

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