Traffic Q&A: Dump trucks hauling sand, gravel need to cover loads

Staff writerDecember 8, 2013 

Question: “What is the law on gravel, dirt, sand and rocks being carried by dump trucks and them covering their loads?

For years, I’ve seen these trucks driving down the road with their loads uncovered. It is very disrespectful, negligent and dangerous. I don’t know if they’re too lazy, or just don’t care.

I don’t think people realize when you’re driving behind one your vehicle is being sandblasted and your paint chipped.

I know, because I ride a Harley as well. You don’t even have to see the truck up ahead, but you know it’s there because you can feel it sandblasting your face.

I would like to see this law enforced. If there is one, what does the law state?” — Michael Urban, Puyallup

Answer: Yes, there is a law. It’s RCW 46.61.655, and here’s what it says:

“No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public highway unless such vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping therefrom, except that sand may be dropped for the purpose of securing traction.

“Any vehicle operating on a paved public highway with a load of dirt, sand or gravel susceptible to being dropped, spilled, leaked, or otherwise escaping shall be covered so as to prevent spillage. Covering of such loads is not required if six inches of freeboard is maintained within the bed. 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.”

Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill says the State Patrol heavily enforces the law. “If we see any vehicle violating this law, we will stop it and take the appropriate action,” Gill said.

If you see a violation, Gill advises calling 911 or the State Patrol. Be prepared to give as much identifying information as you can.

You can also report violations on the Washington State Patrol’s website.

If you need owner information to pursue restitution for damages caused by a commercial motor vehicle and have the license plate number, you can complete the Department of Licensing Vehicle/Vessel Disclosure Request at or by calling 360-902-4000.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693;

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