TDOT: Unintentional littering costs taxpayers millions to pick up each year

$15 million is spent each year on picking up litter in Tennessee. (WSMV file photo)

Unsafe, unsightly and unsanitary garbage is piling up along Tennessee's interstates, and the problem is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.TDOT reportedly spends $15 million each year on litter prevention and pickup. Now, TDOT and THP are looking to crack-down on these incidental litterbugs. According to TDOT, most of the littering is not done on purpose but blows out the back of pickup trucks or trailers hauling loads of garbage to the dump.“Cover your loads, it's a law in Tennessee," said Shawn Bible, manager of TDOT's beautification office. "If you're hauling something that could come out of your truck or vehicle, it must be covered."According to Bible, research shows about 70-percent of roadside litter problems stem from uncovered loads and unintentional littering.Each year, TDOT gets thousands of calls reporting litterbugs. However, TDOT does not specify litter that comes from unsecured loads.Right now, even if the tipster has the license plate number of the car or truck that the litter came from, TDOT only sends a letter. No tickets are issued.“I think increased enforcement will be our next step,” Bible explained. “I think we have the right penalties in place, but we're possibly not doing [the] enforcement we could.”THP said they do not have specific statistics on people violating the "tarp law" that requires them to secure their loads. The offense is simply categorized as a "non-moving violation."If you see someone littering on the interstate, intentional or not, you can file a report with the THP or TDOT’s litter hotline by calling (877)-8-LITTER or submitting a tip online. Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Edward Burch joined News4 at a reporter in December 2016.

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