More than 200,000 U.S. crashes involved road debris during the past four years. These resulted in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths, according to new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research. The number of road debris crashes involving items falling from vehicles has increased 40 percent since 2001.
Study and Key Findings:
Researchers examined common characteristics of crashes involving road debris between 2011 and 2014 and found that:
· Nearly 37 percent of all road debris crash deaths occurred after a driver swerved to avoid hitting an object.
· Debris-related crashes are much more likely to occur on interstate highways, as high speeds increase the risk for vehicle parts to become detached or cargo to fall.
· More than one in three road debris crashes occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which is prime time for hauling or moving heavy items like furniture or construction equipment.
About two-thirds of crashes involve items falling from vehicles. The most common types of vehicle debris are:
· Parts becoming detached from a vehicle (tires, wheels, etc.)
· Unsecured cargo (furniture, appliances, etc.)
· Tow trailers becoming separated
“This new report shows that road debris can be extremely dangerous, but all of these crashes are preventable,” said Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions.”
Tips to Prevent Road Debris Crashes:
· Maintain Vehicles: Badly worn or underinflated tires often suffer blowouts. Exhaust systems and the hardware that attach them to vehicles can rust and corrode, causing mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Regular maintenance can prevent these issues.
· Secure Vehicle Loads: Tie loads down with rope, netting or straps; tie large objects to the vehicle or trailer; cover loads with sturdy tarps or netting; don’t overload vehicles; always double check loads to make sure they’re secure.
· Drive Defensively: Drivers should continually scan the road at least 12-15 seconds ahead to be prepared for debris. Also, never tailgate and try to maintain open space on at least one side of the vehicle to make it easier to steer around an object. If debris is unavoidable, reduce speed as much as possible before making contact.
Additional tips and information on how to report road debris to the proper authorities can be found at AAA.com/RoadDebris.
Currently every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. In Ohio, dropping road debris is a misdemeanor with fines ranging from $150-$1,000. Exemptions include sand or other substances dropped on the road to secure traction, water or other substances sprinkled on the roads for cleaning or maintenance, and items dropped from agricultural or garbage vehicles.