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Washington loophole allows unsecured loads on some dump trucks

Have you ever been on the unsuspecting end of an unsecured load? It's not just annoying, it's downright dangerous.

This summer, Jimi Burleigh had two auto glass insurance claims within weeks of each other.  He says both were because of commercial trucks with uncovered loads. 

Burleigh is one of several KING 5 viewers who've said they're frustrated by having to deal with so many dings and cracks due to uncovered loads. 

But for Burleigh, it wasn't just a hassle. 

He says a rock flew off the back of a dump truck in June while he was driving south on I-5, south of downtown Seattle. He says the rock hit his driver's side window and he saw a flash of white. The entire window splintered into hundreds of pieces, then came cascading into his SUV and onto the freeway.  He pulled over to the side of the road and took some deep breaths.  

"It was a nice day. If my window had been down, that would've been my head. I was kind of freaked out," Burleigh said. 

Burleigh said he wants the state law changed to force all trucks to cover their loads. 

Washington state law says everyone is responsible for having a secure load. But there's a loophole for some trucks. Trucks with a carrying capacity of 8,500 gross pounds or more that are carrying gravel, sand, or dirt do not have to cover their loads as long as they maintain 6 inches of "freeboard." That means there has to be 6 inches of space from the top of the load to the top of the sides of the truck bed.  

A Washington state house bill was introduced in 2013 that would have closed the loophole. But the bill never became law.  

Washington State Trooper Johnna Batiste says they frequently receive calls about unsecure loads. She encourages anyone who witnesses debris falling from a truck to call and make a report. 

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"It's one of those things," she said. "We take phone calls for it every day." 

Burleigh said he wants lawmakers to close the loophole now, because he's not alone.

"There's a cadre of people at the coffee shop where I go every morning. I told them what happened and every single one of them said something similar had happened to them in the last five years. I know I'm not alone." Burleigh said.

"I want the law to change so that all trucks carrying gravel and dirt have to cover their loads." 

RELATED: Flying mattress on I-90 a reminder that drivers need to secure loads, troopers say

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