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Warnings for motorists about unsecured loads on Arizona highways

Matthew Reif was cruising down the Hunt Highway in 2006 when a piece of scrap metal shattered his windshield and hit him, cutting the main artery to his heart.

unsecured loads

His father, Paul Reif of Gilbert, tearfully recounted Tuesday how his 29-year-old son died in the car, smashed into a median.

“My son Matthew’s life was taken because of an unsecured load,” Reif said, his wife, Toby, by his side. “For 11 years, I have been trying to make this (cause of accidents) go away.”

Reif joined state officials at an event encouraging drivers to secure their vehicle loads. It can be a frightening sight on the freeway: a couch bouncing in the back of a pickup or gardening equipment about to fall from a landscaper’s trailer. unsecured loads are very common on our high

When drivers don’t secure loose items, there can be serious consequences. Unsecured loads are a huge danger on Arizona freeways.

Thirteen people died last year and 22 were seriously injured in accidents related to debris in the roadways of the Phoenix metro area, authorities said.

It’s a big jump from previous years, they said.

“Just take a few minutes and properly tie down the cargo on your vehicle. It seems so obvious, and yet the results of not doing so can be so tragic,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “This is so easily avoided if people just take the time to do this right.”

“A $10 tarp, a $5 piece of rope and an extra five minutes can save someone’s life.”

Piled nearby were items Arizona Department of Public Safety employees collect from Valley roads and freeways every day: mattresses, couches, a chair, carpet, a coffee table, a refrigerator, wood, cardboard, metal, ladders, a shovel, coolers — even a urinal.

Reif urged drivers to think of their families. “Secure your load like everyone you love is driving behind you.”

The extra effort is worth it, even if it requires running to the hardware store before making a trip, said DPS Deputy Director Heston Silbert. Not only can falling items put other drivers at risk, officers who must remove debris from roadways also face danger.

“A $10 tarp, a $5 piece of rope and an extra five minutes can save someone’s life,” Silbert said.

How to secure your load

unsecured loads


  1. Use tie-down straps, if possible. Bungee cords can snap and ropes can come untied.
  2. Fasten a tarp or netting across the top if you have multiple or small items.
  3. Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help you.
  4. Consider renting an enclosed moving truck or trailer. Or hire a moving company.