HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A new study from AAA reveals more than 200,000 crashes happened between 2011 and 2014 due to debris on U.S. roads. This caused more than 500 deaths and around 39,000 injuries.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports accidents involving road debris have gone up 40 percent since 2001. Crashes involving debris are more likely to happen on Interstate highways, according to AAA.
AAA has some tips so you can avoid objects flying off your vehicle and causing an accident. Those in Pennsylvania who cause an injury due to flying debris from their vehicles can be fined $100 to $1,000.
“Tie down everything with straps or a rope. You always want to be sure to cover the load with a tarp or a net. Be sure that heavy objects or large objects are tied directly to the trailer or to the truck,” said Doni Lee Spiegel, spokesperson for AAA Central Penn.
Make sure to check your tire pressure to prevent blowouts or leaving a piece of tire on the roadway. Exhaust systems and hardware that attach to a vehicle can rust and corrode. This can cause mufflers and other parts to drag and break loose. AAA also says to make sure tow trailers are secured properly.
“This new report shows that road debris can be extremely dangerous but all of these crashes are preventable,” said Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Drivers can easily save lives and prevent injuries by securing their loads and taking other simple precautions to prevent items from falling off the vehicle.”
You can take steps to avoid hitting debris on the road.
“You want to scan the road about 12 to 15 seconds ahead, so that way you can see objects and give yourself plenty of time to plan to move around them,” Spiegel said. “Additionally, don’t tailgate. If you can give yourself about a three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, that will give you enough time to react.”
AAA reports 37 percent of all fatal road debris crashes happened because the driver swerved to miss an object, overcorrected, and lost control of the vehicle.
“Those people, that was someone’s mom, someone’s husband, someone’s child. It’s so tragic,” Spiegel said. “If you can save a life, it’s worth it.”
AAA reports more than one in three of all deaths from road debris crashes happen between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m., the time people are hauling heavy objects.