We’ve all done it—hauled furniture, camping equipment, luggage, and other supplies down the highway while on vacation or taking a child to college. But how much do we know about properly securing the load to make sure nothing falls off? Probably very little, and this is why items falling off passenger cars and pickups are a major cause of roadway debris that leads to accidents.
Road Debris From Moving Vehicles
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), over 200,000 accidents between 2011 and 2014 involved debris in the road. These crashes resulted in 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths. According to AAA, more than two-thirds of debris-related crashes were caused by objects falling off a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads.
Common types of hazardous road debris falling off vehicles include:
- Unsecured cargo such as furniture, appliances, and other items
- Parts detaching from vehicles due to poor maintenance, such as tires, mufflers, hubcaps, and tailpipes
- Trailers separating from a car or truck due to faulty attachment
These events frequently happen on a highway where high speeds and sudden swerving or braking can lead to the separation of the object from the vehicle. When debris like this ends up in the road, other drivers must swerve to avoid hitting it. AAA estimates that 37 percent of the deaths caused by road debris crashes were a result of the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object in the road. Sudden movement like this can lead to a loss of control of the vehicle or a rollover crash.
Preventing Roadway Debris Crashes
The key to preventing these crashes is spreading the word about how to properly secure loads and maintain vehicles. It's not enough to toss items into the bed of a pickup or to tie large objects to the roof of your car.
AAA offers these tips for properly securing cargo when you're bringing large purchases home from the store, moving furniture or construction materials, or going on a camping trip:
- Tie down the load with rope, netting, or straps.
- Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer.
- Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting.
- Don’t overload the vehicle.
- Always double-check the load to make sure it's secure.
If you're traveling a long distance, it's also a good idea to re-check the load after a few miles to make sure straps and ropes haven't loosened from wind or high speeds.
Vehicle maintenance is another important task to undertake regularly to ensure that parts will not fall off your car and endanger other drivers. AAA recommends the following:
- Replace badly-worn tires.
- Keep tires at the recommended inflation to prevent blowouts.
- Replace rusted mufflers and exhaust pipes, as these can drag and break loose.
- Inspect any other hardware attached to the vehicle and secure or remove any loose part.
A trained mechanic can provide the inspection and repair recommendations that could prevent a major tragedy on the highway.
We've Seen it All
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we've seen vehicle accidents caused by nearly every possible dangerous situation. Crashes caused by debris in the road are particularly frustrating to witness because they're so easily preventable. If your accident was caused by an object that came loose from another vehicle, we may be able to hold that driver responsible, but we'd have to find him first. If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in such a crash, it may be worth the effort to seek information from traffic cameras, witnesses, and the police to track down the other driver and pursue a damage claim against him. If you find yourself in this situation, call our office to see if we can help.