Enforce fender/mud flap law, says reader

The in basket:  Russ Holloway asks, “Why isn’t the mud flap/fender law (RCW 46.37.500) enforced? Dealerships are selling vehicles that are not properly equipped. New trucks, cars and motorcycles are coming off of the show room floor not street legal. I think there would be fewer dings and cracked windshields if this was adhered to.”

I asked State Trooper Russ Winger about his experience with this law and its enforcement, and its applicability to motorcycles.

The out basket: “We have been stopping vehicles, mostly lifted trucks, for this violation since I became a trooper 26 years ago, at least.” Russ said. “If the body line of the vehicle extends down to mid-wheel level and there is 2-3 feet of body behind the tire there is no real reason (other than oversize tires extending outside the body line) to add splash aprons.

“Vehicles that have lifted suspensions and oversize/off road tires (they seem to go together) are the vehicles that troopers tend to stop most frequently for this violation. There is obviously more chance of spray/rocks/mud being thrown up and to the rear of the vehicle.

“I personally use the ‘corrective notice’ enforcement method on most occasions to gain compliance with the law. The driver is given the notice with a directive to install sufficient spray devices and have the vehicle inspected by an officer for compliance. If the driver fails to correct the violation and return the card to me in the allotted time period and signed off by an officer, they can be sent an infraction ticket for defective equipment. This can be used for other equipment violations as well.

“I seemed to always get the notices back when I explained the process to the driver.

“I think our troopers still use this method often but are under no obligation or directive that would limit them just issuing a citation at the time of the initial traffic stop. Some people get the message with a warning and some do not. That decision is left up to the individual officer. The citation is $124.

“Motorcycles do not present as much of a problem. They have much less surface area on the single rear tire and most street motorcycles use less aggressive tread patterns that do not hold rocks/mud nearly as bad.

“In addition, other than hard core motorcycle commuters, the number of motorcycles on the road is very low during the heavy rain months in Washington.”

He said WSP doesn’t involved itself with the compliability of vehicles at the time of sale. “Dealers and auto supply stores will sell you parts and accessories that may be illegal in any given state. The ‘buyer beware’ slogan is in effect for purchasers.

“Most common are lighting products, lighting covers and tinting, window tinting, exhaust systems and some suspension products,” he said.

One thought on “Enforce fender/mud flap law, says reader

  1. I wonder why semi- ltrucks, logging trucks, and other big rigs aren’t required to comply. During the rainy months they are the biggest spray producers on the roads.

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