The Texas Department of Public Safety teamed up with the department of transportation and state and local law enforcement officials last week to urge drivers to tie down cargo and debris in pickup beds and trailers to prevent injury, vehicle damage and possible death on Texas roadways.

At a demonstration in Tyler, DPS Public Information Officer Jean Dark said there were 226 crashes in Smith County in 2016 that resulted from loose debris and cargo falling out of pickups and trailers. The incidents injured five people and one person was killed.

TxDOT public information officer Kathi White said debris cleanup last year in Smith County cost $260,000 — and $840,000 in the eight-county region covered by the Tyler District.

Dark said cleanup and sweeping operations last year cost about $400,000 in Smith County — and about $1.6 million in the eight-county district.

White urged residents to talk about loose debris on the highway to help the department get the word out about unsightly debris laying along roadways, to help reduce the costs to tax payers and make the roadways safer.

Dark said driving with an unsecure load is against the law and extremely dangerous.

She said violators can be charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable with a fine up to $500.

Dark said Texas law states a vehicle shall be equipped and maintained to prevent loose material from escaping by blowing or spilling.

“A vehicle bed carrying a load may not have a hole, crack or other opening through which loose material can escape; and shall be enclosed on both sides by side panels, on the front by a panel or the vehicle cab and on the rear by a tailgate or panel,” she said. “The tailgate of the vehicle shall be securely closed to prevent spillage during transportation.”