Back in April, an Edina couple escaped serious injury when a piece of plywood flew off a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck and smashed through their windshield Hwy. 14 in Milford Township. The 71-year-old man and 69-year-old woman suffered minor cuts and scratches along with some glass in their eyes.

But the results are often much worse when items are jettisoned from moving vehicles. In February, a man from Blaine was seriously injured when he stopped on I-35W in Roseville to help remove a recliner that fell off a truck and was hit by another vehicle.

A report from the Government Accountability Office found that there are 51,000 incidents involving unsecured loads in the United States each year, killing 440 people and injuring 10,000 people each year.

To draw attention to the problem and frequency of items falling off moving vehicles, the Minnesota State Patrol along with the Minnesota Department of Transportation has designated Monday as Secure Your Load Day. It's the brainchild of Robin Abel of Seattle, WA, whose daughter was severely injured by an unsecured load.

Minnesota law requires that loads are secured so that no part of the load becomes loose or falls into the lane of traffic.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, at 55 miles per hour, an object weighing just 20 pounds that falls from a vehicle strikes with an impact of half a ton.

About 40 percent of litter on the nation's roadways is attributed to unsecured loads, a study from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Over the past five years, the Minnesota State Patrol has issued 1,673 unsecured load citations to passenger vehicle drivers, 305 unsecured load citations to commercial vehicle drivers, 9,331 unsecured load warnings to passenger vehicle drivers, and 2,032 unsecured load warnings to commercial vehicle drivers.

Photo: Minnesota State Patrol

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