Do I have to secure everything in the back of my pickup?
In short, no. If you happen to be in Hawaii, you don’t have to secure birds with feathers (HRS § 291C-131), and if you are taking produce to market in Tennessee, you won’t get a ticket for your unsecured tomatoes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-7—109).
States do provide a few other exemptions. Pickups actively involved and sanding roads, vehicles moving at low speeds inside a construction zone, and trucks engaged in local farming tend to be the only exemptions. Does this apply to your load?
What is not exempted in almost all states? You name it. Lumber, equipment, machinery, litter, and that old couch you are donating. Often times we ignore the heavy low lying items like a spare transmission as they are resistant to blowing away. But if you get pulled over in Georgia you can be looking at up to a $1000 fine (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-254 and § 40-6-248.1). Don’t forget, the wind is not the only force acting on your cargo. Those dense objects ride well in the best case scenario, but brake hard or run into a ditch and you’ll turn that pancake compressor into a flying saucer! Inertia will get you every time.
Please check out a recent study by the Governmental Accountability Office for more information on unsecured loads in pickup trucks.