Photo of Chief Steven Wojnar of the Dudley, Massachusetts Police Department

A weekly column by Police Chief Steven Wojnar of the Dudley Police Department

Week of June 21, 2020

Spring and summer are the times many people move furniture or other large objects over the roads.  One person mentioned they were moving to a new apartment.  Family and friends were helping, so they planned to use cars and possibly a small pickup truck as the primary means of transportation.  Other than securing the items in place, is there anything else that should be taken under consideration? 

All loads that are transported in open pickup trucks need to be secured in a proper manner.  This should include tie downs (ropes, straps, etc.) and proper coverage.  This can include tarps or other similar coverings.  Loose items can fly from the vehicle and could potentially cause an accident or simply litter the roadway.  Be sure whatever you are transporting is stable and can withstand a sudden shift, in the event you need to take some evasive action while driving.  Objects can fall from the vehicle or, if heavy enough, could cause your vehicle to overturn.  These are certainly situations to avoid. When transporting objects in cars, it is important to leave enough space for clear, unimpeded, operation of the vehicle.  Do not pile boxes, etc. in places which hamper the drivers view.  Nothing should be placed in, or on, the vehicle that could otherwise impact the driver.  This can include objects that are on or near arms and legs, could possibly roll under the pedals, or are unsecured on the dashboard.  This would qualify as impeded operation under MGL Chapter 90 Section 13. 

When it comes to large articles that may extend beyond the back of a vehicle, the law is specific on what drivers need to do.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 7 states in part “Every motor vehicle or trailer so operated which carries a load or object extending four feet or more beyond the cab or body of such vehicle shall display at the extreme rear end of such load or object a red light plainly visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the sides and rear, and shall display in place thereof a red flag or cloth not less than twelve inches square during the period when motor vehicles are not required to display lights.”  The open tailgate of a pickup truck is counted in the total distance.  This may be used to stabilize an object during travel.  It is still counted in the total distance under the four-foot rule for a red flag during the day and red-light during headlight use hours.

It is always a good practice to exercise extra caution when it comes to transporting items over the roads.  Additional ropes or even more trips may be warranted in some cases.  You must consider your safety, the safety of other travelers, and the protection of the items you are transporting.  A few extra precautions can be important in preventing accidents or injuries.

In addition to the Corona Virus Pandemic, there is a great deal of turmoil taking place in our state and around the country.  We continue to serve the people of Dudley and work with the community to improve the quality of life for everyone.  I continue to thank the men and women from my department for their continued dedicated service to the Town of Dudley during these trying times.  Thanks also go out to the many Police Officers, Fire and Emergency Services members, public works, government and all other “essential” personnel for their continued hard work and service.  We greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.

Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at swojnar@dudleypolice.com.  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen. 

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