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Grass Clippings Pose Hazard to Motorcyclist Safety

Colburn Law

Dumping grass clippings in the road after mowing the lawn is more than just an eyesore – it is a hazard that is against the law in some cities and states. Grass clippings are a serious safety threat to motorcyclists in Washington. Going through grass clippings is the equivalent of hitting black ice, according to many riders. Grass clippings can cause serious and even fatal motorcycle accidents. Learn what to do with your grass clippings instead of discarding them in the road for optimal motorcycle safety.

The Risks of Grass Clippings

Grass and grass clippings are 85% water. When left or dumped in the roadway, they present a serious problem to passing motorcyclists. Going over clumps of grass clippings – wet or dry – is similar to trying to navigate over slick ice. The motorcycle’s tires can lose traction, making the rider lose control – similar to hydroplaning or skidding. The motorcycle may then turn on its side, drive into a ditch, strike a tree, or hit another vehicle. A motorcyclist may not survive an accident involving grass clippings.

A motorcycle’s tires need to connect and stick to the asphalt for safe, controlled operation. This is especially important around curves. If anything interferes with the connect patch between the tire and the road, whether it is water or grass clippings, the motorcyclist is in major danger. It can become impossible to control the motorcycle safely. If caught of guard, this can lead to an accident. Otherwise, a motorcyclist may have to switch lanes, slow down, or cross into oncoming traffic lanes to avoid grass clippings in the road. These actions can also put the biker at risk.

Washington State Green Litter Law

Many states and cities have laws limiting where property owners can place their yard litter and debris. While most do not mention grass clippings specifically, they are one of the most dangerous types of yard litter, and often included in the broader language of the law. Washington State Legislature, Section 70.95.240 prohibits dumping green waste in natural places. This includes forests, rivers, and streams. Dumping lawn clippings, leaves, and other natural debris near a water source is particularly negligent.

Discarding grass clippings into the road goes against basic litter laws. It could be a misdemeanor in Washington depending on the circumstances. Furthermore, the injured motorcyclist may be able to hold you liable for damages if your negligently discarded grass clippings cause an accident. Your insurance company could end up paying the motorcyclist’s medical bills and vehicle repairs. Keep others safe by discarding green waste responsibly. If you notice someone engaging in unsafe or illegal dumping of green waste, call a non-emergency police number and report an infraction.

How to Keep Motorcyclists in Seattle Safe

Most people only think about water pollution when learning about grass clipping laws, but in reality, dumping them in the road is bad for more than just the environment. It is a serious safety risk that can cost lives. Learn other places to discard your grass clippings to avoid fines and help the Seattle motorcycling community. If you are someone who mows lawns or tends a garden in Seattle or Bellevue, do your part to make the roads near you safer for motorcyclists.

Never discard or blow grass clippings into the road. Position your lawn mower so that the chute expelling the clippings aims at your yard, not the road. You might not be able to control every single blade of grass, but you can prevent a slippery, slimy pile of grass clippings deposited on the pavement. It is also unsafe to dump yard or garden debris in or near the road. Instead of discarding yard litter and grass clippings in the road, turn biodegradable materials into compost. Reuse your clippings in compost, mulch, or garden beds.