It seems almost everyone has a story about that one time they were involved in a crash or encountered a serious hazard due to an unsecured load or debris cluttering the roadway. Florida Rep. Jamie Grant (R-Tampa) recalled his best friend’s mother was killed when an engine fell off the back of a trailer and flew through her windshield. Others have talked about encountering construction tools flying off the back of trucks, swerving to miss a mattress lying in the highway, losing control due to ripped tires on the roadside or a huge tree branch that was causing an obstruction.
While these incidents can result in thousands of dollars in property damage, serious injury or even death for those who encounter these dangers, the person who was responsible, if they are caught, might expect a ticket with a few hundred dollars fine or, if someone dies, up to 120 hours of community service.
Many argue that’s simply not enough, particularly in light of a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which reports this is a much bigger problem than we may have previously understood. According to the latest news, there are approximately 50,000 accidents reported every year that are caused in some way by road debris. That’s nearly double the number noted in a previous report from 2000 indicating there were 25,000 of these incidents every year.
In fact, between 2011 and 2014, road debris was cited as a factor in 200,000 accidents resulting in nearly 40,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths. Annually, that’s 9,800 injuries and 125 deaths.
Most of these car accidents happened on the highway. Approximately two-thirds involved some item or items that had fallen out of the back of the vehicle as a result of failure to properly maintain or secure the load.
This is by no means a new issue. Just this past April, 10 News detailed the problem – and state lawmakers’ proposed approaches to it. At the time, the most forceful proposal came from Rep. Ed Narain (D-Tampa), who proposed increasing the fine for unsecured load, which is currently $268.
AAA reports that in more than one-third of these accidents, the drivers were injured when they tried to swerve to avoid the debris. In other cases, crashes occur when vehicles actually strike the roadway debris, in some cases setting off a chain reaction of crashes.
Authorities say motorists need to drive defensively and scan the road every 15 seconds or so.
As far as how to limit the amount of roadway debris, authorities recommend motorists:
- Maintain your vehicles. Tires that are under-inflated or badly worn can suffer blowouts that result in pieces being left in the roadway. Wear and tear can also cause parts to rust and corrode, which means mufflers or other vehicle parts can become loose or eventually break loose.
- Secure vehicle loads. Properly-secured loads may be tied down with a rope, straps or netting, with large objects tied directly to the vehicle/ trailer.
- Cover the entire load with a tarp.
- Avoid overloading the vehicle.
- Always double check to make sure the load is secure.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by road debris, we can help.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Road Debris Can Kill You; New Report Reveals Growing Danger, Aug. 11, 2016, By Tanya Mohn, Forbes.com
More Blog Entries:
Khoury v. Seastrand – Asking Car Accident Jurors About Specific Damages, Aug. 11, 2016, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog