Charles County to Target Debris-Spewing Vehicles with $80 Fines

LA PLATA, Md. (Feb. 11, 2008)—If you're driving through Charles County in an uncovered truck that is spewing debris along the roadway, there's a good chance you'll end up with a citation. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office announced today that they will begin strictly enforcing Maryland transportation laws requiring motorists to properly secure loose materials being hauled in their vehicles. Each citation carries an $80 fine.

The enforcement initiative will target the areas where debris, mostly from the uncovered beds of pickup trucks, is often scattered along the roadway. Police say this includes the areas near the Charles County Landfill on Billingsley Road and the county’s recycling centers at Gilbert Run, Breeze Farm and Pisgah.

Charles County officials say the rationale for the enforcement initiative are the "environmental concerns" and "eyesore" created by the litter. Officials also say it costs them time and money because county personnel are tasked with cleaning up after the offending motorists.

To help enlighten the public about the new enforcement initiative, the Sheriff’s Office will participate in a brief public education campaign. In addition to alerting local media, an electronic message board will be placed at the landfill and recycling centers to communicate the message.

After a short period, the Sheriff's Office says they will assign officers to these locations to issue citations to offenders.

According to officials, the debris scattered near the landfill and recycling centers is usually garbage and yard waste and often flies from the uncovered beds of pickup trucks. Although pickup truck drivers are considered the most frequent offenders near the landfill and recycling centers, Maryland law also requires the drivers of commercial vehicles to properly secure their loads. Commercial drivers who lose debris can face fines ranging from $180 to $1,000.

Maryland law defines loose material as dirt, sand, gravel, wood chips or other material that can blow, fall or spill from a vehicle as a result of movement or of exposure to air, wind or weather. Citations can be issued for the following offenses:

· Failure of a loaded highway vehicle to be safely constructed or loaded;

· Failure to prevent the load or covering on a highway vehicle from becoming loose or detached;

· Failure of the vehicle owner, within a reasonable time, to remove fallen dirt, debris or agricultural products from the highway;

· Carrying loose material in a vehicle on or across a highway;

· Loading loose material for carrying in a vehicle on or across a highway;

· Failure to fully enclose a bed of vehicle carrying loose material;

· Carrying loose material loaded to within six inches of top of enclosure without covering load;

· Carrying a load of loose material in a vehicle without a canvas or other approved cover;

· Operating a vehicle on a highway without removing spillage, with the tailgate not closed, with openings allowing loose material spillage or without removing loose material residue.

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