The Texas Department of Public Safety has teamed up with the Texas Department of Transportation and local law enforcement officials to urge drivers to tie down cargo and debris in pickup beds and trailers to prevent injury, vehicle damage and possible death on Texas roads.
DPS spokeswoman Sgt. Jean Dark said loose debris and cargo falling out of pickups and trailers in 2016 caused 226 Smith County crashes, killing one person and injuring five.
TxDOT spokeswoman Kathi White said debris cleanup last year in Smith County cost $260,000, and $840,000 in the Tyler District’s eight-county region, which includes Gregg County.
Cleanup and sweeping operations last year cost about $1.6 million in the eight-county district and about $400,000 in Smith County.
White urged residents to talk about loose debris on the highway to help the department get the word out about unsightly debris lying along roads, to help reduce the costs to taxpayers.
Dark said driving with an unsecure load is against the law and dangerous.She said violators can be charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable with a fine of up to $500.
Dark said Texas law states a vehicle shall be equipped and maintained to prevent loose material from escaping by blowing or spilling.
“A vehicle bed carrying a load may not have a hole, crack or other opening through which loose material can escape and shall be enclosed on both sides by side panels, on the front by a panel or the vehicle cab and on the rear by a tailgate or panel,” she said. “The tailgate of the vehicle shall be securely closed to prevent spillage during transportation.”