DRIVING WITH DEBRIS

How to avoid these hazards on the road

DRIVING WITH DEBRIS

How to avoid these hazards on the road

Unexpected obstacles on the road, such as tires, sofas, and other large objects, can pose a serious threat to drivers. Recent research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that between 2011 and 2014, road debris contributed to more than 200,000 crashes, causing about 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths. Such crashes are preventable: By ensuring their cars are properly maintained and cargo securely loaded, drivers can help keep the road clear.


What Did the Study Find?

Two-thirds of debris-related crashes are caused by items falling from a vehicle. The most common forms of road debris—objects that either detached from a vehicle or were part of an unsecured load—are:

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Car Parts

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Tow Trailers

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Other Cargo


More Results

AAA found the following common characteristics among road debris crashes:

  • 37 percent of deaths in such crashes resulted from a driver swerving to avoid an object
  • 1 in 3 road debris crashes happen between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m
  • Crashes caused by debris are more likely to occur on interstate highways

What Can You Do?

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Take care of your vehicle.

Prevent a blowout—and the resulting debris—by checking tires for wear or underinflation. Also inspect exterior hardware such as exhaust systems for rust or corrosion. Take your car for regular inspections; a professional at an Approved Auto Repair facility can help spot potential problems.

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Secure your load.

Be careful not to overload your vehicle, especially when moving large objects such as furniture. Use rope, netting, or straps to fasten cargo directly to the vehicle, then cover everything with a sturdy tarp or netting.

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Drive defensively.

Always look ahead for debris. Try to keep clearance on one side of your vehicle in case you need to maneuver around unexpected obstacles on the road. If you can’t avoid impact, slow down to help prevent injury and reduce the damage to your car.

Information taken from “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, July 25, 2016.