Cover Your Load - It's the Law!

Picture of a covered trailer with a secured load, picture of an uncovered truck, unsecured load.


Heading to the landfill? Understanding how and why to cover your load is vital to a successful visit - and ensures you're within California State safety codes. Below you can learn how to properly cover your load, why it's important, and download a free "Cover Your Load!" poster. 

Are you transporting items to the landfills?   Make sure your load is covered. Under California Vehicle Code Sections 23114 and 23115, it is against the law to operate a vehicle on the highway which is improperly covered, constructed or loaded.  Contents must be covered so that no part spills, drops, leaks, blows, sifts or in any other way escapes from the vehicle. This law applies to residents in personal vehicles; and businesses, haulers and collectors. 
What happens if you transport an uncovered load? You may receive a verbal warning, a written notice of violation, a citation or you may be turned away from the landfill. 
What is an unsecured load?    An unsecured load has not been fastened in or attached to the vehicle with tarps, rope, straps, netting, or chains. This prevents any part of the load or the covering from becoming loose, detached, or leaving the vehicle while the vehicle is moving. 
What is a secured load?  A load is secure when no cargo or debris can slide, shift, fall onto the roadway or become airborne. Don’t be fooled.  Heavy items and small loads can still fall out. Large truck tires, spools of wire, and pieces of wood that aren’t secured can bounce out. Even small loads can shift during transportation or fall out of a vehicle. 

How to secure and cover your load:

  • Cover your load with a tarp and securely fasten the tarp to the vehicle.  
  • Use a tarp big enough to completely cover your trailer or truck bed — a minimum of four inches should overlap the sides, front and back of your load.  
  • Tie down and secure items directly to your vehicle with ropes, bungee cords, netting or straps. 
  • Re-check your load before you drive. Loads can shift and settle during a trip.  


  • Tie down and secure large items when transporting.  
  • Make sure that any covering is tied down, can’t shift, catch the wind or pop out. 
  • Place lighter items underneath heavier items to help keep them in place. 
  • Balance the weight to make it even; avoid being top heavy. 
  • Make sure your truck or trailer bed does not have a hole or tear where debris can escape. 
  • Remove any loose material that may remain in the trailer or truck bed before leaving the landfill.  

Cover Your Load – It’s the Law!

  • California Code, Vehicle Code - VEH § 24002 
  • California Code, Vehicle Code - VEH § 23114 
  • California Code, Vehicle Code - VEH § 23115 

Downloadable Cover Your Load! Posters