Road debris can be very dangerous. Small objects could become flying missiles that might cause a car accident or personal injury. Large objects might pose especially deadly dangers that could enter your vehicle by falling, leaning, or otherwise getting in the way.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says road debris caused or contributed to more than 200,000 accidents over a recent three-year period. Those accidents caused about 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
Just about anything could cause road debris, including other vehicles. The foundation says anything that poses a significant safety hazard is considered road debris.
Vehicles Account for Most Road Debris
Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows two-thirds of road debris comes from other vehicles. It usually happens when one or more items fall from or off of the vehicle.
Vehicle debris most often is caused by:
- Loose cargo
- Parts detaching from the vehicle
- Trailers that separate and strike other vehicles or land in the roadway
When other vehicles cause road debris, their owners and drivers are liable for property damage, medical costs, and other harms.
NHTSA data show about a third of all accidents caused by road debris occurs between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. That is when more vehicles are on the road hauling and towing cargo. Heavy items, such as furniture and construction equipment, can be especially dangerous.
Debris-related accidents are four times more likely to happen on an interstate or highway. That is where most of the nation’s commerce gets transported, and many people who are moving items use the interstate to travel greater distances while limiting the number of stops.
What to Do if You Encounter Road Debris?
The AAA Foundation says 37 percent of accidents caused by road debris occur because the driver swerved to miss the debris.
Swerving suddenly could cause you to lose control of your car. That might lead to an accident with other vehicles. Swerving also could cause a rollover accident or cut off another vehicle. It is important to try to maintain control of your vehicle and not panic.
You also should follow at a safe distance and travel at the posted speed limit. That will give you time to identify road debris and drive around it or slow down and stop if necessary. It generally is not a good idea to stop on a freeway, but very large road debris and lots of traffic might make it necessary.
The road debris might be small and the adjacent traffic lanes full of vehicles. That might require you to risk damage to your vehicle by driving through the debris instead of swerving suddenly or coming to a complete stop.
Watch for Sources of Road Debris
You can help to protect yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle against harm by keeping a close watch out for potential road debris. If you see a trailer or a truck that is loaded clumsily and is not secured well, you should try to pass that vehicle and put the potential danger behind you.
If you see a tractor-trailer that moving erratically, it might have an unbalanced load or is struggling with strong side winds. You should give it lots of room and pass it when possible.
While driving through a construction zone, you should keep a close eye on potential road debris and objects that might find their way into the road. Strong winds can cause a seemingly secure object to fly into the roadway and become potentially dangerous road debris.
Some basic precautions could help you to identify possible sources of road debris and do your best to avoid them. If you cannot avoid them, you can mitigate the possible danger by maintaining your composure and not swerving or driving erratically.
How to Prevent Causing Road Debris?
Just about everyone has to haul something sometime. You might be moving into a new home, towing a camper, or hauling a boat to the lake.
No matter what you might be hauling or towing, you are responsible for securing it and preventing your load from endangering others. You need to ensure that your load is strapped down and there is no way anything could fly out of the back of your pickup truck or trailer.
Many people might set tools, ladders, and other equipment in the back of a trailer or truck bed without securing it. One good jolt might cause one or more unsecured items to fly out of the bed or trailer.
Even something as relatively harmless as leaves, brush, or sand could become road debris that causes an accident. You should do your best to cover and safely secure your load.
When towing a trailer, you need to ensure that you are using the correct equipment and hook it up properly. An improperly connected trailer could break loose and cause a serious accident or injury.
Vehicle Maintenance Helps to Prevent Road Debris
Parts dropping off of a vehicle can become very dangerous. A heavy bumper and a spare tire that falls into the roadway are examples of parts that might cause a bad accident and possibly injure others.
If your vehicle is in poor mechanical condition, badly worn parts might break loose and fall into the road. Those parts might puncture tires, damage body panels, or crash through a windshield and possibly injure the vehicle’s occupants.
Properly maintaining your vehicle and trailer can help to prevent them from causing road debris. It also might prevent you from being liable for creating road debris that might make you responsible for damages.
Other motorists also should take preventive measures so that they do not cause road debris. If the efforts fail and you survive an accident caused by road debris, an attorney could help you to hold liable parties accountable.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients after an Accident Caused by Road Debris
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by road debris, reach out to the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.