June 6 is Secure Your Load Day, and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is reminding drivers of the importance of keeping materials on cars, trailers and truck beds secure.

According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 200,000 crashes from 2011 to 2014 involved debris on roads. Road debris accounted for about 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths over the same time period, the study found.

“We’ve all seen loads that are anything but secure and drivers who don’t take the time to secure their load are asking for something bad to happen,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “It is the responsibility of drivers to make sure their loads are tied down and won’t come loose or fall out.”

California law requires drivers to cover cargo in a way that prevents loads from shifting, sliding, spilling, or falling from a vehicle. Drivers who fail to secure a load face a $238 fine. The law also applies to properly securing animals in the bed of a truck, with violators subject to a $285 fine. All states have some level of fines or penalties for unsecured loads.

OTS recommends that drivers:

  • Tie down loads with rope, netting or straps
  • Cover the load with a sturdy tarp. Fasten it to the vehicle so it won’t pop out or fly away
  • Tie large objects to the vehicle
  • Place lighter items lower and heavier items on top
  • The “cram” technique is not enough: tightly packed loads can still come loose
  • Don’t overload the vehicle
  • If you see an object fall from a vehicle or in the road, call 911