Secure the Load, Keep It Off the Road!

NATM News, Trailer Safety,

By Jim Hanni, Jennifer Haugh of AAA

Entering into another busy moving season, AAA wants to be sure you’re securing that load! Whether you’re moving the whole family, the college student, or cleaning out the garage and hauling things off, take these precautions to avoid causing trouble on the roadways.

AAA is calling for drivers to properly secure their loads to prevent dangerous debris.

AAA researchers examined common characteristics of crashes involving road debris and found that:

  • Nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris can increase a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and make a bad situation worse.
  • More than one in three crashes involving debris occur between 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m., a time when many people are on the road hauling or moving heavy items.
  • Debris-related crashes are much more likely to occur on Interstate highways. Driving at high speeds increases the risk for vehicle parts to become detached or cargo to fall onto the roadway.

More than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways between 2021 and 2016 according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Road debris has resulted in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths between 2011 and 2014.

About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads. Crashes involving vehicle related-debris increased 40 percent since 2001, when the Foundation first studied the issue. The most common types of vehicle debris are:

  • Parts becoming detached from a vehicle (tires, wheels, etc.) and falling onto the roadway
  • Unsecured cargo like furniture, appliances, and other items falling onto the roadway
  • Tow trailers becoming separated and hitting another vehicle or landing on the roadwa

Drivers can decrease their chances of being involved in a road debris crash by:

  • Maintaining their vehicles: Drivers should have their vehicles checked regularly by trained mechanics. Badly worn or underinflated tires often suffer blowouts that can leave pieces of tire on the roadway. Exhaust systems and the hardware that attach to the vehicle can also rust and corrode, causing mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Potential tire and exhaust system problems can easily be spotted by trained mechanics as part of the routine maintenance performed during every oil change.
  • Securing vehicle loads: When moving or towing furniture, it is important to make sure all items are secured.
    • To properly secure a load, drivers should:
    • Tying down load with rope, netting, or straps
    • Tying large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
    • Covering the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
    • Don’t overload the vehicle
    • Double-checking the load to make sure it is secure

“Continually searching the road at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead can help drivers be prepared in the case of debris. Always try to maintain open space on at least one side of your vehicle in case you need to steer around an object. If you see you are unable to avoid debris on the roadway, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact.”

William Van Tassel, Manager of Driver Training Programs for AAA.

AAA also recommends that drivers avoid tailgating and remain alert while on the road. AAA also recommends that drivers avoid tailgating and remain alert while on the road.

About AAA
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 56 million members nationwide. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit