Local News

State Law Requires Trucks To Cover Loads With Tarps

Posted July 25, 2005

— No one knows where a 5-pound rock came from that hit an Apex woman while she drove in Wake County last Wednesday, but investigators say most of the time large rocks usually fall off trucks.

Ann Larson died Friday after a large rock crashed through her windshield and hit her in the head as she drove on Highway 55 last Wednesday.

Truck drivers are supposed to secure their loads -- it is the law.

Wanda Capps works for a company that replaces windshields and sees the damage truck debris can cause. Her own windshield was recently hit.

"I avoid following construction vehicles for that very reason," Capps said. "It's kind of like you want to duck in your car, but you have nowhere to go."

Oren Leblang narrowly missed hitting a piece of concrete that fell off a dump truck he was following on the Beltline.

"It was about the size of a grapefruit. It came up in the air eight or 10 feet, it took three or four bounces high enough to get into a windshield," Leblang said. "Driving is scary enough without things dropping off trucks like that."

The state passed a law in 2001 that says any truck carrying sand, gravel or rock must put a tarp over its load. It must also make sure that its tailgate is secure. If not, truckers can be fined. Since the law was enacted, members of the trucking industry say the numbers of accidents caused by falling debris has decreased.

Fred Allen works with companies that transport sand, rock and gravel. He said that he would like to believe the rock that hit Larson was a freak accident that does not occur very often.

"At least the trucks I see are pretty responsible in covering their loads," Allen said. "Is this a wake-up call? Certainly, it's a signal that we need to do better."

And doing better hopefully translates into safer roads for all drivers.

Larson, who was buried Monday, leaves behind a husband and two daughters.

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