Rules of the Road: Do you have to cover loose items while hauling?


Question: Aren't large trucks carrying gravel and other loose debris required to cover their loads? If so, Bellingham Police should station an officer near the northbound ramp to Interstate 5 from westbound Sunset Drive. Whenever I'm there around 8 a.m. to catch a bus I see truck after truck go by headed for the freeway, fully loaded with rocks and gravel, with no cover. I'd hate to be behind them once they get up to speed!

Answer: Any vehicle carrying loose items is required to secure the load so as not to lose it. Many trucks will cover the load of gravel or dirt to make sure that they keep it in the truck, but at this point I don't believe putting a tarp on the load is mandatory. However, if they lose a part of the load and/or it does damage, they will be responsible for it.

Q: Trucks pulling trailers have the right to use both lanes of the roundabout. From my research, that includes pickups pulling horse trailers. It is safer and easier on the animals to use both lanes. Am I correct that pickups pulling horse trailers are allowed to straddle the line and use both lanes in a roundabout?

A: The ability for trucks pulling trailers to use both lanes of the roundabout is to allow semi-trucks with trailers (or double trailers) to actually make it around the roundabout. Most pickups pulling either horse or travel trailers are able to drive through the roundabout and stay in their own lane, assuming they have slowed enough to do so. If you have found some reference in the RCW that specifically talks about pickups pulling horse trailers, please send it to me. I haven't found that.


Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices.

Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to

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