New AAA Study Shows That More Than 200,000 Crashes Are Caused by Road Debris
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 11, 2016) – More than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways during the past four years, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In North Carolina alone during the past four years, more than 2,000 crashes involved debris. South Carolina saw over 1,600 collisions involving debris from 2011-2014.
Road debris has resulted in over 1,200 injuries in North and South Carolina between 2011 and 2014. AAA is calling for drivers to properly secure their loads to prevent dangerous debris.
“We want to remind drivers the severity of not securing their loads,” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons, “Motorists can save lives and prevent injuries by taking a few extra minutes to make sure everything is secure.”
AAA researchers examined common characteristics of crashes involving road debris and found that:
- Nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris can increase a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and make a bad situation worse.
- More than one in three crashes involving debris occur between 10:00 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., a time when many people are on the road hauling or moving heavy items like furniture or construction equipment.
- Debris-related crashes are much more likely to occur on Interstate highways. Driving at high speeds increases the risk for vehicle parts to become detached or cargo to fall onto the roadway.
About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads. Crashes involving vehicle related-debris increased 40 percent since 2001, when the Foundation first studied the issue. The most common types of vehicle debris are:
- Parts becoming detached from a vehicle (tires, wheels, etc.) and falling onto the roadway
- Unsecured cargo like furniture, appliances and other items falling onto the roadway
- Tow trailers becoming separated and hitting another vehicle or landing on the roadway
Drivers can decrease their chances of being involved in a road debris crash by:
- Maintaining Their Vehicles: Drivers should have their vehicles checked regularly by trained mechanics. Badly worn or underinflated tires often suffer blowouts that can leave pieces of tire on the roadway. Exhaust systems and the hardware that attach to the vehicle can also rust and corrode, causing mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Potential tire and exhaust system problems can easily be spotted by trained mechanics as part of the routine maintenance performed during every oil change.
- Securing Vehicle Loads: When moving or towing furniture, it is important to make sure all items are secured. To properly secure a load, drivers should:
- Tie down 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 load to make sure a load is secure
Currently every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. In both North and South Carolina the fine is $100. AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves about specific road debris laws in their state. Drivers should also practice defensive driving techniques while on the road to prevent debris related crashes from occurring.
AAA also recommends that drivers avoid tailgating and remain alert while on the road. Additional tips on defensive driving and how to report road debris to the proper authorities are available online at AAA.com/PreventRoadDebris.
Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.9 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.