That’s right. According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, vehicle-related road debris is estimated to cause over 25,000 crashes and 80-90 deaths per year in North America.
While that’s a tiny fraction of overall accidents and deaths (thankfully), these incidents affect all of us.
We pay for them one way or another – through lives injured or lost, through damaged property, through fines, and through the tax dollars* needed to keep our roads clear.
Debris Becomes Deadly In the Blink of An Eye
We usually think of semis and dump trucks when we think of road debris, but the biggest offenders are . . . regular people going about their daily business.
Vehicle parts (like blown tires, mufflers, bumpers, etc.) and cargo (like mattresses, lumber, bikes, etc.) accidentally fall off of cars and trucks every single day. It’s so common that the Utah Highway Patrol receives about 5-6 calls a day about road junk!
Avoiding debris seems obvious and easy, but as this video of a 2×4 crashing through a windshield shows, it can happen so suddenly that you won’t have time to react. Thankfully, this driver survived.
A motorcyclist in Utah wasn’t as fortunate. On June 4th, he hit a mattress on I-15 in Box Elder County and was thrown from his bike and killed.
Both accidents were completely avoidable.
Unsecured Loads Can Kill – Secure Your Load Every Time
Of course, the best way to avoid debris in the road is to stop it from getting there in the first place.
Utah’s “Litter Hurts” campaign recommends these safety tips –
• Weight and gravity are not enough to keep loads in or on your vehicle.
• Use ropes, straps, and chains to secure items. Avoid bungee cords, twine, and small string.
• Ropes should be used with a type of anchor. Suggested knots include: Bowline, Truckers Hitch, and Double Fisherman’s Bend.
• Keep items below the top edge of the truck bed or trailer.
• Close all boxes, bags, and containers.
• Cover loose items with a tarp and secure it.
• Use cargo netting only for smaller items.
• After traveling a short distance stop and makes sure nothing has loosened.
If you’re behind a vehicle that’s loaded down, keep your distance so you’ll have extra time to react should something happen. A few extra feet can mean the difference between life and death.
We at Siegfried & Jensen work every day with victims of preventable auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents. We’d love to see fewer catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases if it meant that the roads were safer.
We encourage you to check out Utah’s “Litter Hurts” campaign for more information!
*Cleaning up litter on Utah’s highways costs taxpayers more than $2 million each year.