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King County Council recognizes the work of Robin Abel & Norm Maleng

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert with Robin Abel

About 400 motor vehicle collisions caused by debris falling from a moving vehicle happen every year on Washington roadways. The result can be horrendous injuries and even fatalities, all of which could be avoided if drivers secured what they’re hauling.

The statewide emphasis and tougher new laws on securing loads is largely due to the support of late King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng and the volunteer work of King County resident Robin Abel. Robin’s the mother of Maria Federici, whose name you’ll remember from a 2004 accident on I-405. Maria was tragically injured when unsecured boards from a rented trailer smashed through the windshield of her car. Maria is alive, but she has gone through major surgeries and years of physical therapy. She was blinded in the accident.

Since her daughter’s accident, Robin has become a leading advocate and compelling spokeswoman for roadway safety, even authoring a book on the necessity of securing loads on vehicles to save lives on our roadways.  “Secure your load as if everyone you love is driving in the car behind you,” Robin Abel recommends.

Robin Abel (holding recognition) with members of the Metropolitan King County Council, WSP & WashDOT

The Metropolitan King County Council, led by Councilmember Kathy Lambert, recognized Robin Abel for her inspiring personal dedication to improving safety on roadways in King County and across the state. We join Robin in urging all drivers to take extra precautions to “secure your load” on vehicles.

Washington State Department of Ecology has issued an informational brochure, and it includes a few tips on how best to secure your load and prevent accidents caused by roadway debris. You can also check King County’s Solid Waste Division website, which provides pre-trip questions to ask, information on fines, and tips on how to make sure you’re safely hauling your load.

Here’s the King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s  press release, July 5, 2011:

Council recognizes Robin Abel for campaign to “Secure Your Load”

The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized and thanked Renton resident Robin Abel for her years of volunteer work to promote awareness and enforcement of “secure your load” regulations on vehicles.

 Abel is the mother of Maria Federici, who was severely injured seven years ago when an unsecured piece of furniture fell off a truck on the freeway and went through her windshield. Since then, Abel has become a leading advocate for roadway safety and strengthening traffic laws requiring secured loads. With her persistence, the state Legislature passed “Maria’s Law,” making it a crime to carry an unsecured load.

Recently, Abel worked with Councilmember Kathy Lambert and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WashDOT) on promoting the use of highway reader boards with the Washington State Patrol’s statewide Secure Your Loads campaign and emphasis patrol in May.

“I have been inspired by Maria’s courageous recovery, and by Robin’s untiring and persistent work to strengthen laws and enforcement for securing loads on vehicles,” said Councilmember Lambert. “Thanks to her vigilance, King County’s garbage transfer stations now are posted with reminder signs to all drivers to secure their loads. We all are safer on our roads and freeways because of Robin’s dedication to this cause.”

Joining Councilmember Lambert in presenting the recognition was Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who talked about her work with late King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng in assisting Robin with getting Maria’s Law approved. WashDOT Regional Administrator Lorena Eng also provided details about the state’s recent “secure your load” campaign.

“I am honored to recognize Robin for her tireless work,” said Councilmember Bagshaw. “Norm Maleng would be proud.”

“In addition to being a hazard to drivers, unsecured loads pose a safety problem to maintenance crews and state patrol, who must remove the debris while under live traffic,” said Lorena Eng. She also noted the cost of debris removal from state highways, which amounted to $4 million in 2010.

 The recognition thanks Robin Abel “for her inspiring personal dedication to improving safety on roadways in King County and across the state,” and urges all agencies, businesses, and residents to take extra precautions to “secure your load.”

 “Secure your load as if everyone you love is driving in the car behind you,” Robin Abel advised.

 If you see an unsecured load, please report it by calling the state toll-free hotline at 866-LITTER-1.

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