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Autos

Warm weather realities

As warmer weather arrives here, numerous consequential events ensue.  The first warm days bring homeowners out in a flurry to get their yards in order.  Besides that, road construction sites emerge throughout the region and auto travel season gets underway. 

The en masse yardwork creates unwanted debris resulting in substantial numbers of pickups loaded with yard garbage making trips to the Regional Waste Facility.  Yard debris is welcome there, but leaving bits of it on the highway during the trip is strictly forbidden and enforced.  I’ll bet the enforcement will even pick up over the next few weeks.

Revised Code of Washington 46.61.655 contains lengthy text describing driver obligations to secure loads; the Washington State Patrol summarizes the law on its Website as follows:  a) All loads and any required covering must be secured. All vehicles loaded with dirt, sand, or gravel which do not maintain at least six inches of freeboard must have a secured cover.  b) Any vehicle with deposits of mud, rock, or other debris on the vehicle's body, fenders, frame, undercarriage, wheels, or tires shall be cleaned of such material before the operation of the vehicle on a paved public highway. A broom and shovel should be carried in the truck to accomplish this cleaning.  c) If the load is a type of material that will be blown from the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion, then that type of load shall be covered to prevent this from occurring.  d) The six inches of freeboard shall be maintained, if the load is not covered, after the load has had an opportunity to settle.

 Review those requirements before heading to the dump.  Objects flying out of a vehicle are genuine hazards, hence the heavy fines imposed on perpetrators.

Streets suffer even greater ravages of winter than yards do, and construction crews begin to blossom even sooner than Lilacs.  Numerous sites will spawn road workers and equipment this summer.

Road crews experience a potentially hazardous exposure to traffic during their tasks.  Sadly, many lose their lives due to close proximity with vehicles operated by careless drivers.  As with secure load enforcement, safety in construction zones is a priority for Washington evidenced by the doubling of fines for infractions occurring in the zones.

Please temper your need to rush when negotiating through areas undergoing road repairs — you’ll avoid a ticket and improve workers’ safety.

Memorial Day officially kicks off the summer travel season.  Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day outline the season of heavy travel for vacations and recreation. 

A celebratory, carefree attitude sometimes accompanies these events, where certain drivers tend to ignore their seatbelts.  That fact is not lost with the WSP, and their seatbelt emphasis patrol proves it.  For the upcoming increased travel period, WSP, city and county officers will be focusing on seat belt scofflaws.  Data shows that a lower percentage of drivers buckle their belts during evening hours, so officer vigilance will be at a peak then.  You are not cloaked in a dark shroud just because it’s night — the cops know just what to look for.

Since the emphasis patrols will be out all summer, it’s always a good idea to maintain a vehicle insurance policy and carry a certified proof of coverage document.  A $575 fine for failure to produce proof-of-insurance will place a real damper on your outing.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.