According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road debris mishaps account for 25,000 auto accidents - about 80 of which are fatal - in the United States each year. Road debris refers to anything found on the road that shouldn't be there.
Road debris often collects on roads that are not very busy; in rural areas, debris can be found in the middle of the road or around sharp turns and corners. In larger cities with high traffic volume, road debris usually collects on the sides of the road or on medians and traffic islands. Road debris can puncture tires, damage undercarriages, and cause your vehicle to skid or slide out of control. Look out for these common types of road debris:
- Tires - A vehicle's tire may fail for a number of reasons; underinflation, overinflation, punctures, excessive wear, or even faulty manufacturing can cause a tire blowout. When the tire blows, pieces of it are left in the road, causing other drivers to swerve or merge to avoid running over the debris.
- Hay bales - Trailers hauling several bales of hay to and from farms may drop a bale or two into the road at high speed if the load is not properly secured. Some of the larger round bales can weigh several hundred pounds and may be impossible to avoid.
- Car Parts - Mufflers, bumpers, and hubcaps are often left on the road after an accident. Older vehicles may lose parts as they travel along the highway. Keep an eye out for abandoned car parts and maintain a safe distance from vehicles that may lose apart while in motion.
- Light Poles - Lightning strikes, car crashes, and aging materials can cause light poles to collapse into the street. Light poles in the road can lead to heavy traffic and can create a very dangerous situation if power lines are also down.
- Signs - Traffic signs may fall into the road after a storm or car wreck and can damage your vehicle if driven over. Signs often have sharp edges or bolts and screws that can puncture your tires and cause you to lose control.
- Trees or Branches - One of the most common types of road debris, tree branches often make for a messy roadway after a strong storm. While some sticks and branches may be easily passable, large branches and entire trees can block lanes or entire roads.
- Construction Barrels - Orange cones and barrels get moved around - sometimes too far into the road - as contractors work on new streets or nearby buildings. A construction barrel on its side can very easily roll into the road and become a dangerous obstacle for drivers.
- Railroad Ties - These large wooden poles, often weighing more than 200 pounds, can cause severe damage to your vehicle. These may be found on streets near home improvement stores, or, of course, railways.
- Metal Debris - Sheet metal, furniture, appliances, and other metal debris can get tossed from vehicles and strewn across the road. Sharp steel, nails, screws, and other metal pieces can pierce tires and cause significant damage.
- Miscellaneous Trash - Littering is illegal in many states; unfortunately, drivers still throw trash out the window of their moving cars as they travel down the highway. Bags of food, diapers, garbage, even road kill can cause problems as other motorists try to dodge and swerve to avoid hitting these objects.
Always stay alert and keep an eye out for road debris when driving. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and always look before merging or swerving to avoid an object in the road. For more information on car accidents, contact the knowledgeable legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers.