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Nov 30

"Ask the Mayor" Question: Covering Loads to Prevent Spilling on Highways

Posted on November 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Lois Whitney

Dear Mayor,

Q: Is it required for trucks carrying loose items to be covered? Much of roadside rubbish seems to be blown off of trucks carrying uncovered items or loads.


A: According to both the Maui County Code and the Hawaii Revised Statutes, drivers are responsible for ensuring that their load is tied down or covered properly, and that loose material from the load cannot escape into the air or onto the road. Police cite violators under State law, specifically HRS §291C-131. To read the details on requirements and penalties, read the posting on my blog at www.mauicounty.gov/Mayor and click on “Mayor’s Update” on the left. Keeping loads covered not only helps reduce the amount of debris and litter on the road, it also helps keep other drivers safe from flying objects, sand, dirt and other projectiles that could potentially cause an accident.

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§291C-131  Spilling loads on highways; penalties.


    (a)  No vehicle shall be moved on any highway, unless the vehicle is so constructed, covered, or loaded as to prevent any of its load other than clear water or feathers from live birds from dropping, sifting, leaking, blowing, spilling, or otherwise escaping therefrom, except that sand may be dropped for the purpose of securing traction, or water or other substance may be sprinkled on a highway in cleaning or maintaining the highway.

     (b)  No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway when any load thereon is not entirely within the body of the vehicle; provided that this prohibition shall not apply if the load is securely fastened by means of clamps, ropes, straps, cargo nets, or other suitable mechanical device to prevent such load from dropping onto the highway or from shifting in any manner and, further, no vehicle shall be operated on any highway with any load thereon projecting beyond the extreme width of the vehicle.

     (c)  Vehicles carrying agricultural produce from fields during harvesting shall be exempt from the requirements of this section but the owner of the vehicle must provide for the reasonable removal of all such produce spilled or dropped on the highway.

     (d)  No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway with any load if the load is not entirely covered by a cargo net, tarpaulin, canopy, or other material designed to cover the load to prevent the load from escaping from the vehicle, where the load consists partially or entirely of loose paper, loose rubbish, plastics, empty cartons, dirt, sand, or gravel.

     (e)  Vehicles transporting a granular load consisting of dirt, sand, or gravel on any highway shall not be required to cover their granular load if the granular load does not extend, at its peak, above any point on a horizontal plane equal in height to the top of the side, front, or rear part of the cargo container area that is the least in height.

     (f)  No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway with a load consisting of rocks, stones, or boulders if the load, at its peak, extends above any point on a horizontal plane equal in height to the top of the side, front, or rear part of the cargo container area that is the least in height.

     (g)  Violation of this section shall be considered an offense as defined in section 701-107(5), shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 291D, and shall subject the owner or driver of the vehicle, or both, to the following penalties without possibility of probation or suspension of sentence:

     (1)  For a first violation, by a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $500.

     (2)  For a second violation involving a vehicle or driver previously cited under this section within one year:

         (A)  Suspension of the vehicle registration or suspension of the license of the driver, or both, for not less than five working days but not more than ten working days; and

         (B)  A fine of not less than $500 and not more than $750.

     (3)  For a third or subsequent violation involving a vehicle or driver previously cited under this section within one year:

         (A)  Suspension of the vehicle registration or suspension of the license of the driver, or both, for a period of thirty calendar days; and

         (B)  A fine of not less than $750 and not more than $1,000.

     In imposing a fine under this subsection, the court, in its discretion, may apportion payment of the fine between the driver of the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle according to the court's determination of the degree of fault for the violation.

     For the purposes of this subsection, a truck-trailer combination and tractor-semitrailer combination, as they are defined in section 286-2, shall be considered as one vehicle. [L 1976, c 137, §1; am L 1977, c 205, §1; am L 1986, c 175, §1; am L 1989, c 301, §1; am L 1990, c 121, §1; am L 2000, c 100, §1]

Link to State Law

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