Do you know just how dangerous road debris can be?

As you made your way to work, school or another location on the highway over the last month, there's a good chance you've witnessed fellow motorists engaging in all sorts of rather dangerous and altogether frightening conduct behind the wheel.

Indeed, you may have seen people texting, speeding, changing lanes without signaling, tailgating, and even driving with objects hanging precariously from trailers, trunks and roofs.

While this last practice on the part of motorists certainly elicits headshakes and gasps, a recently released study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows it should perhaps elicit outrage.

What exactly did the study find?

The AAA researchers set out to determine just how much of a toll debris was taking on road safety here in the U.S., focusing on the number of accidents it was responsible for causing from 2011 through 2014.

Among their shocking findings:

  • Road debris was responsible for over 200,000 crashes from 2011 through 2014, a 40 percent increase from 2001
  • Roughly 39,000 people were injured and another 500 killed in road debris crashes from 2001 through 2014
  • Almost 37 percent of these 500 fatalities were caused by drivers swerving to avoid objects.

Don't the states have laws requiring motorists to secure their loads?

All 50 states have laws in place calling for those motorists who fail to secure loads to pay fines of varying amounts, with 16 of them also threatening jail time. Indeed, Georgia law threatens motorists who spill more than 10 pounds or 15 cubic feet of debris onto the road with up to $5,000 in fines, up to 12 months in jail and vehicle impoundment.  

What can motorists do to prevent these types of crashes?

AAA indicates motorists can protect themselves from road debris by not tailgating, obeying the speed limit, scanning the roadway every 12-15 seconds and practicing defensive driving techniques.

Furthermore, they stress the importance of regular vehicle maintenance to protect against parts coming loose or tire blowouts, properly securing loads and not overloading vehicles.

As always, please remember that if the negligence of another driver has caused you to suffer serious personal injuries, you can seek to hold them accountable for their actions. 

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