Road Debris Accidents Major Problem in U.S.
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Road Debris Accidents Major Problem in U.S.

trucks on highwayMore than 200,000 accidents on U.S. roads between 2011 and 2014 were caused by road debris, according to a new report by AAA. Sadly, many of those accidents could have been preventable, the report noted. Road debris is often due to unsecured or oversized loads, improper vehicle maintenance or other negligible actions by motorists.

The researchers that authored the report also found that those accidents caused around 500 deaths and 39,000 injuries. These numbers were higher than those found in previous research from 2001, also conducted by AAA, in which around 25,000 crashes and less than 100 deaths were reported from debris-related crashes that year.

“This new report shows that road debris can be extremely dangerous but all of these crashes are preventable,” Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, stated in a press release on the AAA website. “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.”

Common factors in debris-related crashes

Around two-thirds of all debris-related accidents are caused by parts falling off of vehicles that have not been properly maintained or by pieces falling off of unsecured loads. The report lists the most common types of debris found in roadways, including vehicle parts like tires, unsecured cargo like appliances and furniture, and tow trailers that have separated from their vehicle.

These types of crashes are most likely to occur on interstate highways between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. High speeds tend to increase the risk for vehicle parts to fall off or cargo to become dislodged. More than one-third of all road debris accidents occur when a driver swerves to avoid the debris and loses control of their vehicle.

A preventable problem

The report also offers recommendations for drivers to reduce their risk of being involved in a debris-related accident. First, the organization advises drivers to have their vehicles serviced regularly by trained mechanics to keep them in top condition. It is also important to check tire pressure routinely to reduce the likelihood of a blowout, particularly when the vehicle reaches higher speeds.

Drivers should also take care to ensure cargo loads are well secured. Tying down the cargo with secure straps or rope and covering the load with a heavy tarp or netting is a good start. Cargo should also be secured directly to the vehicle and should never overload the vehicle or trailer. Drivers should also double-check the security of the load before driving the vehicle.

Liability in road debris crashes

There are laws in every state prohibiting items from falling from a vehicle while that vehicle is on the road. In a number of states, including New York, penalties for the action could include hefty fines and jail time for the offender.

If you are the victim of a car accident involving road debris, you must be able to prove that the responsible party was negligent in some way to hold that party responsible for your injuries and expenses. In these cases, accident victims may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in search of compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages and other non-economic losses.

In order to increase your chances of successful litigation, you need to partner with a reputable law firm with a track record of results. Contact The Sanders Firm today at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY for a free case review with highly credentialed car accident attorneys in New York.


  1. AAA, The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014, http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RoadDebris_REPORT_2015.pdf

  2. USA Today, AAA: Road Debris Causes Avoidable Crashes, Deaths, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/11/aaa-road-debris-causes-avoidable-crashes-deaths/88563500/

  3. CBS News, AAA Warns of Accident Risk from Debris Flying off Vehicles, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/aaa-warns-car-accident-risk-from-debris-flying-off-vehicles-on-road/