Over the past four years, more than 200,000 crashes involving debris have occurred on U.S. roadways. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, these crashes have resulted in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.
Two-thirds of these crashes can be directly attributed to items falling from a vehicle at high speeds. Therefore, it should be no surprise that most of these debris-related crashes occur on Interstate highways.
Vehicle debris can be broken down into three categories:
- A part of the vehicle becoming detached (ex. badly worn/underinflated tires)
- Unsecure cargo (ex. furniture/appliances)
- A trailer becoming separated from its tow vehicle
Most of these crashes result from a driver swerving to avoid the debris or overcorrecting and losing control of their vehicle. This AAA study shows that road debris is extremely dangerous, but most crashes are preventable.
- Maintain your vehicle – Routinely have your vehicle checked by a trained mechanic.
- Properly secure your cargo with rope, netting, or straps – Double check to make sure your cargo is secure and never overload your vehicle or trailer.
- Practice defensive driving – Maintain a safe speed and following distance from the vehicle in front of you.
Every state has a law that makes it illegal for an item to fall from a vehicle onto the roadway, and many of these states include hefty fines or penalties. Pennsylvania is no exception and considers the violation a summary offense and fines can range anywhere from $100-$1,000 based on any resulting injuries. As you can see, motorists play a large role and responsibility in preventing debris-related crashes.
“Drivers can easily save lives by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off their vehicle.” – Jurek Grabowski, AAA Foundation for Vehicle Safety Research Director