Roadside Chat - Keep your load off the road. Tie it or tarp it

7-29 keep your load off the roadWith eyes on the road 24/7/365, what do our Traffic Management Center operators see? Tires, ladders, couches, construction materials, and all kinds of other debris are common sights on Iowa’s roadways. From January through the end of June, operators have logged 806 reports of debris on the road.

This debris doesn’t just make Iowa roads look bad, it can be very dangerous for you and your family. Whether you run over the debris and damage a tire, swerve out of the way to avoid debris, or get hit by items flying out of another vehicle, the potential for disaster is high.

If you plan to haul items, there are ways to minimize the dangers to those around you.

  • Large or heavy items should be firmly secured with solid straps, rope, bungee cords, or netting. Tie large items directly to your vehicle. Tied-down materials must be able to withstand wind up to 70 miles per hour on the highway. At that speed, the wind is providing about a 20-pound-per-square-foot push, which can dislodge those loads and push them off your vehicle.
  • Do not use restraints if they are frayed, cut, or damaged.
  • For loose, lighter items such as tree clippings, sturdy plastic or canvas tarp or netting can be used to keep items in place. Tie the tarp securely or it might become road debris as well.
  • Put lighter-weight things at the bottom of the load and make sure they are secure. Evenly distribute the load to prevent it from sliding.
  • Keep materials level with truck bed or trailer unless tied down, netted, or under a tarp.
  • Double-check your load to ensure it is secure at the back, sides, and top. Remember that loads can move and settle during a journey, allowing restraints to loosen. If possible, recheck restraints shortly after beginning your trip.
  • Ensure both the vehicle and trailer are in good mechanical condition and roadworthy. Check that your vehicle is rated to tow the load. Remember that your load will make your vehicle less maneuverable, and it will take longer to stop.
  • Ask yourself: Is there any chance of debris falling or blowing out of my vehicle? Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle? What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit a bump?

Remember, it's an emergency if you see debris on the road. Please call 911 right away.

A Utah woman is lucky to be alive after this incident -

In Iowa in 2022, there have been 183 deaths in traffic crashes. That’s an increase of 10 since last Friday. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at

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