Road Debris Is A Serious Hazard That Must Be Addressed Promptly

According to USA Today citing a study performed by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), road debris is responsible for 200,000 accidents and causing 500 deaths over a four-year period from 2011 to 2014. Additionally, 39,000 people suffered varying degrees of injuries in crashes caused by road debris during that same time frame. Over the last 16 years, the problem has grown worse. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a uniform guide for highway cleanup that states can implement as part of safety procedures in the aftermath of incidents on the roads to help combat the growing problem. Unfortunately, implementing this program will solve only a portion of the issue.

Road debris comes from various sources. It can originate from a previous crash or fall out of the back of a car or truck. No matter the cause, falling on the road, drivers must be aware at all times of the dangers road debris can present. Over-steering or panic steering is one of those problems of which drivers must be aware. According to AAA, 33 percent of all fatal road debris crashes, the driver was guilty of panic steering, which is a natural reaction to some object immediately appearing on the road in front of the driver as if out of nowhere. However, the safer option might be to strike the object than to panic and jerk the steering wheel. It all depends on the situation, and hitting an object can cause a crash.

Another consideration is the location where debris most frequently falls onto the road. AAA estimates that 33 percent of all debris related accidents occurred on Interstate highways. Additionally, weather and the time of day can play a role in debris falling on the road. About one out of every seven debris accidents happened during bad weather. Furthermore, most of the crashes occurred between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Regrettably, many of the debris-related crashes are avoidable. First, people must take the time to secure their freight properly. Every person driving with a load exposed to the road must tie down their cargo securely, not only as a matter of common sense, but of state law. Georgia law requires all drivers to secure their loads tightly, including trailers. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor according to Georgia statute §40-6-254. Secondly, AAA recommends that drivers scan the road in front of them every 12 to 15 seconds so they can anticipate potential hazards. Also, drivers should not tailgate or follow too closely to any vehicle on the highway.

The NHTSA’s guidelines on road debris clean up suggest that each state should devise a program for rapid response to debris on the road. The agency indicated that promptly cleaning the road after an incident, such as a serious car crash or environmental spill, will reduce the chances of a secondary or chain-reaction crash when approaching motorists encounter debris in their lane.

The NHTSA’s guidelines address minimum responses law enforcement and State Departments of Transportation must undertake to reduce secondary accidents or exacerbate injuries. Therefore, the NHTSA requires each state to implement procedures that ensure first responders can arrive on the scene and treat the wounded. Additionally, the guidelines call for the implementation of systems designed to re-open the road as soon as it is safe. Many of these goals can be accomplished with an advanced warning to drivers approaching the scene of a crash with appropriate signs that detour drivers around the affected area or slow them down, so the scene is safe.

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If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact Montlick & Associates today for your free consultation. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 39 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Our car accident lawyers have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over 39 years.

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Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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