Starting June 10, the Washington State Patrol is conducting a statewide campaign to make Washington highways safer and cleaner. For three consecutive weekends state troopers will be looking for unsecured loads, and lit debris, primarily cigarettes.

Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Sergeant Darren Wright says litter and unsecured loads are unsightly and costly to Washington taxpayers. " Twelve million pounds of litter is tossed out, or blown out on the highways every year," he notes, " It is estimated that about five million pounds of that-about 40% comes out of, or blows out of, or falls out of vehicles. This costs the citizens about 8.5 million dollars."

Unsecured loads and litter are dangerous, and pose significant environmental impacts to motorists and people who walk, bike or roll, and roadside workers. WSP says fines for littering and unsecured loads range from $50.00 to $5,000. If an item falls out and causes bodily harm or property damage, the driver could also face jail time. The largest fines are reserved for 'lit debris' (cigarettes) and items that can cause vehicle crashes. Drivers are encouraged to properly secure their loads every time they drive.

Wright says the statewide Secure Your Load for Safer Roads Program is a partnership of four state agencies, including the Washington State Patrol, working together to increase safety and reduce roadside litter. "The Washington State Patrol has partnered up with the Department of Ecology, the Department of Transportation, and the Traffic Safety Commission," he said, "All with the same vision and mission, not only to stop litter, to make our state more beautiful, and to make our roads safer too."

WSP says tarps, straps, and cargo nets are effective for securing loads and preventing road hazards.

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