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Ask a Trooper: Secure loads, keep tail lights visible

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo

Question: What is the law regarding fastening bike carriers and other items to the back of a vehicle, which block the ability to read the rear license plate?

Answer: It is illegal if any part of the taillight or license plate is blocked by a bike, carrier or any other object.

A vehicle built after 1960 must have two red tail lights that are plainly visible at 500 feet to the rear, and the license plate must be displayed in a manner that the view of any plate or permit is not obstructed.

A rear end crash could occur when other vehicles can't see the taillights. Please make sure that your license plate and tail lights are visible at all times. Find other options on where to place bigger objects on or in a vehicle so the rear taillights and license plate can be seen at all times.

Another safety issue that we see on our roads is when cargo is not secured. Make sure you properly secure all items that could potentially come out of your vehicle and potentially cause a crash behind you. Make sure that tie-down straps are tight and secure and keep an eye on your trailer and cargo while traveling.

In the event that any item comes off a vehicle while in motion, the driver can be cited for an unsecured load, and could be liable for any civil actions that result in property damage or injury to other motorists that are trying to avoid and/or strike the unsecured item. Watch this video for more information on how to secure your load.