When the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently reviewed data on the number of traffic accidents caused by road debris, the results surprised even the researchers. While a previous study found only about 25,000 of these accidents a year, this more comprehensive look into these crashes found the total topped 50,000 annually.
The report, titled The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014, looked at accidents nationwide between 2011 and 2014 to arrive at these averages. The totals include accidents caused by hitting debris in the roadway as well as accidents that occurred while trying to avoid this debris.
How dangerous is road debris?
Road debris is a contributing factor or the primary cause of a large number of accidents. While property damage is more than injuries in these crashes, quite a few drivers suffer some sort of bodily harm.
According to the AAA Foundation study, road debris plays a role in:
- An average of 50,658 police reported crashes a year
- About 9,805 injury crashes a year
- Between 104 and 144 (average of 125) deaths annually
How can I help prevent this type of accident?
Most of these accidents occur because drivers tailgating the car in front do not have time to avoid the debris or a collision with another vehicle. This is especially problematic because these accidents occur most often on high-speed interstates.
Leaving plenty of space between you and the driver in front of you can help you avoid road debris. This allows you to continually scan the roadway in front of you and gives you time to react to debris. While it may not eliminate all debris-related crashes, it greatly reduces your risk.
As a motorist, it is also your duty to ensure you are not leaving any debris behind to endanger other drivers. This includes:
- Checking your tires regularly and replacing worn out tires to prevent blow outs
- Properly maintaining your car, including having a trained mechanic check for potential problems during every oil change
- Securing loads in your truck or on a trailer with ropes or straps
- Covering the load with a tarp or netting if possible
- Avoiding overloading your vehicle
Who is liable for serious injuries in a road debris crash?
Liability in your accident depends on who left the debris behind. For example, if the car in front of you experiences a tire blowout and causes you to wreck trying to avoid the tire remnants, that driver may be liable if he or she knew of the worn tires. Or, if the entity in charge of road maintenance does not remove a fallen branch or broken asphalt quickly enough, it may be liable for your damages.
In the vast majority of cases, another motorist is liable in a debris-related crash. In fact, two out of every three of these accidents occur because of items falling from another vehicle. This may be due to improper maintenance or because of an unsecured load.
In either case, you can request compensation for your medical bills and other accident-related costs from the responsible motorist. Goldstein & Bashner can help.
Contact us today at 516-874-7303 to schedule a free case review.