There is much conversation about the factors that cause auto accidents. This usually touches on topics such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and poor road conditions due to weather. One common issue that rarely finds its way into these discussions, however, is debris on the road. In fact, while AAA had calculated the impact of debris on accidents in 2001, they only recently updated their data to reflect the period from 2011-2014.
Between 2011-2014, road debris was found to be a factor in over 200,000 accidents reported to police, an average of 50,658 accidents per year. These accidents were responsible for a total of around 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. Accidents which involved debris were four times more likely to happen on interstates than accidents which did not involve debris. Over a third of all deaths that were a result of road debris happened when a driver swerved to avoid hitting an object. Also, over a third of all accidents involving road debris happened between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m.
About two thirds of all road debris accidents were a result of objects falling from vehicles. This included parts of the vehicle coming off due to poor maintenance, unsecured cargo falling, and tow trailers coming unhitched. In Pennsylvania, dropping road debris in these ways can cause a fine up to $1,000.
As part of their report, AAA included recommendations for avoiding road debris accidents. Proper maintenance of vehicles, including undercarriage parts which can rust and come loose, will help keep your vehicle in one piece instead of spread across the road. They also advise against tailgating to ensure that drivers have time to react to changes in the road, and recommend watching 12 to 15 seconds ahead of the vehicle at all times for possible debris. Finally, whenever a load needs to be moved, it must be secured carefully and thoroughly. This includes the use of ropes to hold loads down and tarps to cover them, securing heavy items directly to the vehicle or trailer, and checking the load before driving to ensure that it is secure. Do not overload your vehicle.
There are enough hazards on the road already. We encourage all drivers to avoid adding more. AAA is offering simple steps to limit road debris and save lives who might otherwise be lost in auto accidents. An average of 125 deaths per year is far too many. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of an accident, contact an experienced auto accident attorney who can help you fight for your rights.