According to a recent study, road debris which was largely the result of preventable factors caused more than 200,000 car crashes in the United States over a recent four-year period.
The AAA Foundation, founded in 1974 is a non-profit organization “dedicated to saving lives by preventing traffic crashes and reducing injuries when crashes occur.” Last week, the group published a report compiled from data from three publicly-available sources which is designed to update previous research on the role road debris plays in auto accidents in the United States.
For the purposes of this report, road debris crashes are defined as “crashes in which a vehicle struck or was struck by an object that fell or became detached from another vehicle, struck a non-fixed object on the roadway, or crashed after swerving to avoid an object on the roadway.” This does not include crashes caused by construction debris in work zones, debris on the shoulder of the road, or live animals on a road.
According to the report, between 2011 and 2014 there were roughly 39,000 injuries and roughly 500 deaths attributed to auto accidents caused by road debris in the United States. Most often, such accidents occur on an Interstate, when a driver swerves to avoid debris in the road. Unfortunately, the report also shows that one of the leading causes of road debris is car parts which fall from vehicles due to improper maintenance. A second common cause of road debris linked to car accidents is unsecured cargo—another hazard which could be prevented.
In a press release issued on August 11, AAA Foundation research director Jurek Grabowski said, “This new report shows that road debris can be extremely dangerous but all of these crashes are preventable. Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off the vehicle.”
The researchers and advocates at AAA Foundation hope that by alerting drivers to the frequency of avoidable road debris may help them to properly maintain their vehicles and secure their cargo and thus prevent future tragedies. The goal is also to educate drivers as to how to drive safely in the presence of road debris. According to Manager of Driver Training Programs for AAA William Van Tassel, this includes, “Continually searching the road at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead can help drivers be prepared in the case of debris.” Additionally, drivers should, “Always try to maintain open space on at least one side of your vehicle in case you need to steer around an object. If you see you are unable to avoid debris on the roadway, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact.”
In addition to learning how to prevent releasing road debris from your own vehicle and learning how to safely avoid road debris while driving, in Florida you can also help prevent road debris accidents by contacting the Road Rangers. The Road Rangers is a service patrol run by the Florida Department of Transportation, and they may be contacted to remove road debris so that citizens don’t endanger their safety attempting to remove it themselves. To contact the Road Rangers, dial *347 from any mobile phone.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to determine the source of road debris which causes an accident. However, with the support of an experienced attorney, individuals who suffer injury or the death of a loved one in a car accident may be able to hold negligent parties accountable. To learn more about how our Florida-based car accident lawyers can help, please contact us to schedule a free legal consultation.