Brake lights ahead of me on Rt 13. Vehicles slowing, weaving, to avoid… what?
A can. A plastic bottle. What looks like a bicycle seat and various other less-identifiable bits and pieces of trash. It was a ‘blowout’. Not of a tire, though it could have led to that. It was refuse that had blown out of the back of a pickup truck.
This is something that happens far too often. We’re rural and many of us have to cart our refuse and recyclables ourselves to convenience centers, AKA: Green Boxes, to dispose of it properly. Many of us have pickups and it’s natural to toss it in the bed. No one likes a ripe bag of kitchen garbage riding ‘shotgun’, after all. But physics and critters conspire to hijack that cargo, if one doesn’t take reasonable precautions.
Physics: Airflow over a pickup at speed with an open bed creates a negative pressure area behind the cab and turbulence further back. This actively plucks out items that are fairly lightweight and bulky, like garbage bags and cardboard boxes. A lowered or missing tailgate usually worsens the problem, as well as allowing heavier objects to slide or roll out. If the refuse is in an open container, the wind will gleefully pull it out a piece at a time.
Critters: ‘Possums, raccoons, and seagulls just LOVE smelly trash. Dogs and cats do, too, no matter how well-fed. None of them have any hesitance about ripping open a bag, if given opportunity. You have to get the trash out in the morning on the way to work, so you toss it in the truck tonight, right? Of course, in the morning, it’s all in shreds, you don’t have time or inclination to rebag it and you don’t want to be late. And out it goes, piece by piece.
Nobody likes to see roadside litter or dodge debris on the roads. Just a little extra care can keep you from having trash blowouts. So please:
Don’t leave trash in the bed overnight or unprotected during the day, so as to deny birds and animals the opportunity to raid it. If your truck has a working tailgate, keep it up. If not, try a tailgate net or even a DIY barrier. Secure your cargo with some sort of hold-down, whether it’s valuable, or not. Don’t forget what you’ve got back there when you drive. With all the cooler lids and hats the summer folks loose around here, you’d think the locals would be wiser.