There are few things more frightening than having an object fly off a vehicle ahead of you while you're driving down the highway. If you're lucky, the object will land somewhere out of your path. But if you're not, you could end up smashing into the object or swerving and crashing into another vehicle. That's why it's important to know what to do if you believe a vehicle is carrying a dangerous load or poorly secured items. You should also know what to do in the event that you do end up crashing into an item in the road.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 25,000 crashes occur each year due to vehicle-related road debris. And, sadly, approximately 100 people are killed during some of these crashes annually. Vehicle-related road debris is defined by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety as cargo or a part of a vehicle that comes off and ends up in the road. While some of the debris, such as a blown truck tire, can't always be prevented, other crashes could have been avoided. In a number of these types of crashes, for instance, items fell off of vehicles carrying improperly secured loads.
Avoiding Accidents with Debris
Arguably, the best way to avoid an accident caused by flying debris is to listen to your instincts and avoid driving behind or near a vehicle that appears to be improperly loaded. Don't trust that the driver in front of you -- especially if it is not a vehicle being driven by a professional driver -- knew what they were doing when they loaded or secured their load. If, for example, a mattress on top of a vehicle looks like it's flopping around, try to get around the vehicle. But it's not just the amateurs that make mistakes securing their loads. Even professionals make mistakes or secure loads with equipment that is worn or damaged.
If you can't get around a vehicle that is carrying a dangerous load, keep an eye out for other options. For example, constantly scan the lanes around you so that you are aware of an escape route just in case you need to take evasive action. And if debris should fly out, you should:
- Attempt to change lanes carefully. According to the Los Angeles Times, it is better to change lanes than it is to suddenly brake. If there is a driver behind you, it is likely that they won't know about the debris and, thus, may slam into you if you were to stop suddenly.
- Avoid overreacting. Unfortunately, a number of accidents are caused by drivers losing control when they try to swerve too sharply to avoid debris. You could end up losing control and possibly even flipping your vehicle.
After a Debris-related Crash
If you do end up hitting debris or being in an accident caused by objects falling off another vehicle, you will need to:
- Get your vehicle out of the roadway, if possible. If your vehicle is drivable, try to maneuver it safely out of traffic.
- Write down as much information about the vehicle that lost the debris as you can remember. For example, try to recall whether there was a name of a company on the side of the vehicle or its make and model.
- Obtain the contact information for any witnesses. If you are fortunate to have anyone stop, ask them for their contact information in the event you need to seek legal recourse for the accident.
- Contact a lawyer. Drivers are legally responsible for properly securing the loads that they carry. So if you are injured during an incident with debris in the road, make sure to find a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with these types of accidents.
- Seek medical attention if you are hurt. And make sure to keep a record of all of the times you had to see a medical provider as well as time missed from work. You will need this type of information if your case ends up in court.
Hitting debris can be very dangerous and can result in both material damage to your car as well as physical damage to you and/or your passengers. So if you should hit an object that has flown out of or from another vehicle, you may have to seek the help of an attorney for compensation.