This doesn't look safe but is it legal?

Driving home we noticed someone hauling a large piece of plywood. They did have it strapped down. The two people in the vehicle were also holding on to it. Not that it would have done any good if it slid off. I doubt they could have stopped it.

That led me to the question - is it illegal to haul something on top of your car?

Hauling something on the top of your car isn't necessarily illegal in New York but it could get you a ticket. The secured load law is a gray area when it comes to explaining the legalities of hauling something.

The Vehicle And Traffic Law Section 377 states:

“No vehicle which is designed or used for the purpose of hauling logs or other materials which by their very nature may shift or roll so as to be likely to fall from such vehicle, shall be operated or moved over any highway unless its load is securely fastened by such safety chains, cables or other suitable devices as will effectively prevent the shifting or falling of such load or any part thereof, from the vehicle”

The section appears to only apply to logging trucks, but could be interpreted to any drive who has an unsecure load like a mattress on the roof of the car.

If you read a little further into the Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 380-a makes it “unlawful to operate on any public highway any open truck or trailer being utilized for the transportation of any loose substances, unless said truck or trailer has a cover, tarpaulin or other device.”

This section only applies to trucks and trailers so it's not relevant to someone driving a car with something not tied down on the roof.

There are tens of thousands of crashes each year involving debris flying from cars across the country. And two-thirds of those accidents are the result unsecured loads.

That unsecured load can land you a ticket in New York. Just ask a Finger Lakes driver who got a pair of tickets for transporting his ATV on top of his car.

ATV on Car

This isn't the first time someone has improvised either. One man was seen putting gas in a 4 wheeler, while standing on top of his car at a gas station in Chaumont, New York.

Photo Credit - Todd Fleming
Photo Credit - Todd Fleming

This one was seen at the Stewart's in Holland Patent.

Tracy Gilbert King
Photo Credit - Tracy Gilbert King

In the winter it's snowmobiles. Freddy Muhlberger of Johnstown made 100 mile trip with one after his truck broke down. "I backed my car up to the snowbank and drove the sled on with no problem. It worked a lot better than I thought it would."

Paul Hollenbeck
Photo Credit - Paul Hollenbeck

Let's not forget the snowmobile jammed into the back of a VW Bug in a Cobleskill WalMart.

Steven Carr
Photo Credit - Steven Carr

Marshton Kelly tried it too the day after seeing it on Facebook. "I had to get it over to my buddy's to work on it. The only option was slide it in backwards and I anchored it down using ratchet straps hooked them in those hooks used for car seats for children."

Marshton Kelly
Photo Credit - Marshton Kelly

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