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Loose cargo causes thousands of crashes each year

With the end of the spring semester, many college students in Illinois will be leaving dorm life for good. While it may be possible to get everything in one load, AAA warns that failure to properly tie everything down could lead to a Class A misdemeanor. That is because the state has road debris laws that prevent vehicles from carrying cargo that is not securely fastened. A person could end up with a $2,500 fine, and a prison sentence of up to 12 months, as well.

Why are the penalties so harsh? Legislators could be influenced by the extreme hazards that a lost load poses for everyone on the roadways. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety performed a study in 2016 that showed over 200,000 motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. between 2011 and 2014 occurred because of road debris. The debris was unsecured or improperly maintained cargo in about two-thirds of the crashes. More than 500 people lost their lives, and over 36 percent of those deaths happened because a driver swerved to miss something in the road. About 39,000 people were injured in the crashes.

Some of the danger can be lessened if other drivers allow a long following distance and keep an eye on passenger vehicles and trailers with cargo. The loads should be completely covered by a net or tarp to prevent the wind from loosening items, and large objects should not be resting on top of other objects. Anyone who notices an unsafe vehicle load or debris in the road should contact the authorities.

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