State Patrol: Watch out for unsecured loads on MN highways

The Minnesota State Patrol declared Monday, “Secure Your Load” Day, where they highlighted a few of the items they have picked up off the highway in the last few days and urged drivers to secure their loads while driving on the highway. 

More than 7,000 items are picked up off metro freeways every year.  Ladders are the most common, but mattresses are right up there as well. Drivers may think it is no big deal if they are only driving a few miles, but securing those items correctly can mean the difference between life and death.

Just a couple of weeks ago, it was an 18-foot boat in the middle of the road, but it could just as easily be a trailer hitch though a windshield or a concrete block off a flatbed truck, that killed a man. It is estimated unsecured loads are responsible for 51,000 accidents, 440 deaths and 10,000 injuries a year.

"These are extremely violent collisions and when you talk to people experienced the sound is like an explosion hitting the vehicle,” Lt. Tiffani Nielson said.

Steve Konrad became one of those statistics a few years ago. He was driving his motorcycle home on I-94 when he hit a mattress that had fallen off another vehicle and into the road. 

“The vehicle in front of me swerved to miss the mattress and I somehow hit it,” Konrad said.

Konrad flew more than 90 feet and spent months in a coma.  The mattress had been held down with only plastic tubing.

Last year, the Fox 9 Investigators hit the test track and discovered that, even at relatively low speeds, improperly secured items will easily come loose.  Objects in motion, stay in motion, so a 20-pound object travelling at 55 mph will hit your car with one thousand pounds of force.

READ THE STORY - Investigators: Hundreds of U.S. motorists deaths attributed to unsecured loads

“Never assume the weight of the object is sufficient load securement,” Nielson said.

The Minnesota State Patrol recommends straps that if a load can't be covered, it should be tied down with straps that can ratchet and won't slip, for a secure and tight fit. Bungie cords can slip, and twine will not cut it.

The steps are simple, the stakes are high and there is no shortage of tragic stories.
“People don't think that's going to happen to them,” Nielson said.

In the last five years, the State Patrol has issued 305 unsecured load citations and more than 2,000 warnings to commercial drivers and 1,673 citations and 9,331 warnings to passenger vehicles.

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