PHOENIX (June 6, 2017)—If you've ever been driving on a freeway when something suddenly fell off the vehicle in front of you, you know how scary, dangerous and sometimes deadly road debris can be. In an effort to raise awareness about the potentially catastrophic dangers of loose debris and unsecured loads, Governor Doug Ducey has proclaimed June 6, 2017, as Arizona Secure Your Load Day. The proclamation comes at the request of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Don't Trash Arizona program run by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), and the families of loved ones killed or injured by dangerous debris.
With actual examples of dangerous debris found on Valley freeways as a backdrop, representatives from the supporting agencies held a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on June 6, 2017, at ADOT's Durango Maintenance Yard, 2209 W. Durango St., Phoenix to talk about the importance of securing vehicle loads.
While more than 40 states across the nation will recognize Secure Your Load day in some form on June 6, the date was selected for its heartbreaking Arizona connection. It was proposed by Paul Reif, an Arizona father whose son was killed after a piece of loose metal bounced off the pavement and impaled the windshield of the car he was driving. That accident happened on June 6, 2006.
“We miss Matthew every day, and our family will never be the same,” Reif says. “If our story reminds drivers to take just five minutes to tie down their loads properly, we might prevent other parents from experiencing our pain.”
A recent MAG study found that from January–October 2016, there were more than 1,000 crashes possibly related to road debris in the greater Phoenix area. Thirteen were fatal and another 22 resulted in serious injuries. Phoenix Mayor and MAG Chair Greg Stanton says the burden of safety falls on every Valley motorist. “We need every driver to take the time to secure the loads they haul in their trucks and flatbeds as if a loved one is driving behind them, because someone's loved one is. We simply can't compromise on safety.”
Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety adds, “Debris on our highways and streets is dangerous for both vehicles and the workers that respond to remove it. We must protect these workers.”
A study released recently by the AAA Foundation of Safety revealed that road debris was responsible for an estimated 51,000 car accidents every year, killing 125 people and injuring nearly 10,000.
Colonel Frank Milstead, director of the Department of Public Safety, says “Securing your load – whether it be dirt and rocks, construction equipment, furniture or camping equipment – ensures a safe arrival for not just your stuff, but also other drivers and passengers.”
Nationally, an estimated $11.5 billion is spent on litter clean up each year. Locally, about $1.2 million is spent each year to keep the Valley's highways free of litter.
ADOT will post the message “SECURE YOUR LOAD, SAVE LIVES” on more than 100 electronic message boards throughout Arizona on June 6.
Don't Trash Arizona has long encouraged motorists to secure their loads properly by using tarps, bungee cords or other tie-downs. The goal of the program is to address the environmental, economic, health and safety impacts of roadway litter, which includes the potential hazards related to unsecure loads.