Second only to Christmas, springtime brings the removal of debris, trash and household items that often end up alongside area roadways.
“We have 12 [facilities] altogether that the citizens are afforded the opportunity to dump for free, and a lot of the people, for that reason, haul trash off themselves,” said Bartow County Environmental Code Enforcement Officer Ken Ford. “Unfortunately, we see a lot of roadside litter, particularly bags in tact, sometimes other type of debris. A lot of times we can find evidence in the bags that can lead to people, and most of the time when I do confront these people, they tell me that they hauled the stuff in their truck and didn’t realize it blew off.”
Under state law, drivers must have secured the load to prevent it “from dropping, escaping, or shifting in a manner that creates a safety hazard or deposits litter on public or private property.”
“Georgia law dictates that you have to have an adequately secured load, which means either by tarp or cargo net or some sort of strap-down of any type rope, and when it’s adequately secured, then you can get it to its destination and it’s not laying on the side of the road,” Ford said.
Although violations are listed as a misdemeanor, they can carry a fine up to $1,200 and up to 12 months in prison.
“... The Bartow County ordinance, it’s a minimum of a $200 fine plus a $70 court cost, so it’s not cheap either way you look at it,” Ford said.
Typically associated with bagged trash, violations go beyond garbage to include furniture and equipment.
“Anything pretty much that you put in your truck should be tied down or secured. It’s not just limited to garbage bags,” Ford said. “... I could give you example after example where things have fallen off and actually caused damage to other people’s vehicles and even resulted in death. If somebody drops a ladder off their truck, it’s going to get the same charge as dropping garbage, which is a not adequately secured load.”
Crediting a population increase — “more people, more trash” — with the increased debris problem, Ford said most people are willing to remove their litter.
“Most people are good law-abiding citizens. They are willing to get out and pick up whatever they drop,” he said. “... To prevent that from happening, the best thing is to prevent it before it happens.”
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recommends motorists:
• Don’t rely on the weight of items to keep them in your truck. Bumps, turns and sudden stops can dislodge even heavy items like furniture, tools and equipment.
• Consider buying a cover if you don’t often haul large, bulky items in your truck. Not only do covers improve fuel economy and keep your goods dry, they keep material in the bed, keep thieves out and look good doing it.
• All trash or recyclables should be in sturdy bags and covered by a strong tarp or cargo netting. If you often throw trash into your truck bed, secure a 5-gallon bucket with a lid in the corner of the bed as a trash can. Or throw trash in the tool box.