State bill introduced that removes loophole, requires large trucks to cover loads

Since moving to the Snoqualmie Valley two decades ago, we’ve replaced multiple vehicle windshields and sustained exterior paint damage due to flying rocks on I-90 and SR 18. We quickly learned to add a separate – and cheaper – windshield replacement clause in our auto policy. I’ve also seen a neighbor sustain even worse damage. She was extremely lucky a large rock that came off a semi hauler didn’t make it through her windshield.

It seems the Washington State legislature is considering tweaking the covered load law that could change and possibly improve my ‘windshield woes.’

5th District Representatives Lisa Callan and Bill Ramos are part of a group of Washington State legislators who have introduced legislation – HB 2186 – that would amend state law (RCW 46.61.655 ), removing a loophole that gives trucks hauling loose materials – like dirt, rocks, gravel – a work-around to covering their loads.

Current state law says trucks don’t have to cover loads if six inches of free board is maintained within the truck bed. That’s why you commonly see semis in our area with boards attached to the sides of their truck and trailer beds. It’s also why even if those trucks are equipped with covers, the covers may go unused. (See example of free board in photo below).

Free board attached to the beds of hauler trucks allow loads to be transported while uncovered.

House Bill 2186 would require covering of loads, even if free board is installed on hauler trucks. As proposed, HB 2186 would be phased in. For example, if a truck has the free board and a cover, it would be be required to now use that cover until July 2022.

After July 1, 2022 any vehicle driving on paved roads/public highways carrying items susceptible to escaping from truck beds, has to securely cover those loads.

Snoqualmie resident Amanda Rich is happy her local representatives helped introduce HB 2186. Both she and her husband’s cars have been hit by flying rocks recently.

Amanda said, “I got hit as I headed east on 90 a few months ago by truck with two trailers full of rock and no cover.” She sustained $500 in damage to her car’s hood. Luckily her windshield was spared.

HB 2186 is currently in the house, referred to the transportation committee. According to KIRO News Radio, similar legislation has been proposed in the past, but it failed to get through both the House and Senate.

The covered load law hasn’t been amended since it was adopted in 2005 in response to the tragic accident caused by flying debris that blinded and nearly killed Maria Federici on I-405.

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  • These dump truck with trailer throw more rocks than any other vehicle I’ve ever seen. My car has a $3500 windshield which was cracked by one of these. I took the car out 2 weeks later having only 50+ miles with the new windshield and another one of these monsters let loose with a barrage of rocks that put 2 chips in the new windshield as I was trying to accelerate past. These guys need to drive their trucks over a steel grating as they are leaving the site to remove tread rocks as well as cover their loads. Ridiculous!

  • Sorry! But that is not going to help. Every rock we have been hit by has come from under the Truck/Trailer or fell through the cracks in the Tailgate, or even worse was already on the road from other trucks dropping from their trailers cracks.

    1. This is correct, and my experience as well. When one of these trucks hit’s the potholes on I-90 westbound, dirt and rocks are knocked loose and scatter across the road. Hitting cars. It’s not the load in the bed – it’s the dirt and rocks stuck to the wheels/rims, frame and under-carriage. That is the primary cause of most of the windshield and rock chip damage.

      Yes, bigger rocks coming from the bed are a problem too – and one can argue a more life threatening issue. So, we need this new law. We also need another law to reduce the dirt and rocks stuck to the underside of the trucks when they enter a roadway.

  • This is a good but incomplete solution. When a truck is loaded or when dumping some gravel naturally accumulates on the tongue linking the dump truck and dump trailer. A responsible driver checks this and any other horizontal surface where gravel could accumulate during loading or unloading. Often the danger isn’t just from what is in the dump bed. We see evidence of this issue when a truck encounters a hole or bump which dislodges the accumulation.

  • I think it is time for the residents to raise hell with the gravel pit & trucking companies!!

  • Mike’s car has a $3500 windshield? I think you should find a different windshield guy, that’s way too much. Glad you can afford such an expensive windshield, you must be really successful and thanks for letting us know!

  • It’s actually on a Geo Metro, but they’re such rare cars now and I’m so in love with the gas mileage that I just went for it. I know it doesn’t make too much sense financially, but I‘m just wacky that way.

  • Living Snoqualmie