City, county accused of loose loads

The in basket: Janice Danielson of South Kitsap, who commutes to Bainbridge Island, says she sees “many loads that are not secure in the back of many trucks or trailers.

“On my trek, I have seen furniture, bags of garbage, boxes and, the other day, had to swerve into the next lane because of an aluminum ladder that was lying halfway in the middle of the fast lane on Highway 3! A ladder. How do you not know that this item has fallen out of the back of your vehicle?”

“The biggest perpetrators that I have seen over the past year or so are employees driving trucks that belong to the City of Bremerton or Kitsap County!” she said.

“Day before yesterday, I was driving behind a Kitsap County flatbed truck, packed, and not one thing tied down.  Boxes, tools, three propane tanks at the very back of the truck. NOT ONE of them was tied down!”

She also said one particular garage door company, which she didn’t name, is another offender, whose loads she has never seen tied down.

“If I could video tape it while I was driving, I would!” she said.

“Are there not laws in this state that speak to this issue? At the very least … the city of Bremerton and Kitsap County employees should practice more due diligence.”

She closed on a positive note, offering kudos to Viking Fence and Hanley Roofing, who she says always secure their loads.

The out basket: Yes, there is a law requiring that vehicle loads be covered or tied down, and it was strengthened in 2005 following the highly publicized and critical injury suffered east of Seattle by Maria Federici in 2004. She was hit in the face and blinded by part of an entertainment center than tell off a truck in front of her.

Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the State Patrol here, says, “So far in 2010, troopers have stopped 34 drivers in Kitsap County for not properly securing their load.  Additionally, 23 drivers were stopped for not  covering their load.  Ten other drivers had debris (other than small litter) escape from their vehicle and were stopped for that.

“When we get a 911 call of some debris in the roadway we will respond. Mattresses, furniture, ladders, empty trash cans, large bags of crushed aluminum cans are all common.

“Often when we arrive, the vehicle that lost the load will be pulled over and the driver will be attempting to pick up their load from the roadway.  In this situation, those drivers will receive tickets for not securing their load.”

I asked for a response from Kitsap County and Bremerton to Janice’s accusation.

Colen Corey, public works operations manager for the city, says, “It is now, and always has been the policy of the city of Bremerton to follow all laws and regulations regarding the proper loading and securing of materials hauled in city vehicles. Many of our vehicles are equipped with holders mounted in the truck beds that secure certain loads without the use of chains and straps that would be easily identified by a passing motorist, possibly leading the motorist to conclude the load is not secured when it actually is very secure,”

Don Schultz, county road superintendent,  said, “Our employees are trained to comply with applicable rules and regulations. In cases where a reader observes a county truck violating these rules and regulations, it is helpful to note the vehicle numbers or license numbers when possible. If that is not possible, road name, direction, time of day or any other pertinent information can help us follow up on their concerns.

“We are using your reader’s observation as an opportunity to review and ensure that applicable laws and regulations are followed by the operators of county equipment.”

But Don adds, “I am frequently on the roads in the county and have not observed road department dump trucks with uncovered loads when conditions and regulations require them. I have been with roads since 1996 and am not aware of any failure-to-secure violations, fines or warnings.”

I’m afraid my experience is more like Don’s than Janice’s. Though she drives farther in a day than I do in some weeks, I haven’t seen the profusion of loose loads she describes, not even watching for them since she wrote.

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