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Road Debris Crashes and How to Avoid Them

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Items left in the roadway can do serious damage to other cars and trucks, causing serious property damage, accidents involving injury, or even fatalities. A recent study has found that these accidents are common, and researchers offer several suggestions on how they can be prevented.

The recent study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looked at the frequency of accidents caused by road debris, as well as the damage done by those accidents. The researchers examine data gathered between 2011-2014 from police reports to study these crashes. The researchers broke down road debris accidents into three main categories: vehicles that struck or were struck by items falling off another vehicle, vehicles that struck loose items which were already in the roadway, and vehicles that crashed in the process of swerving to avoid an item falling off another vehicle. According to the researchers’ report, there were an average of 50,658 accidents caused by items in the roadway each year, nationwide. These accidents caused an annual average of 9,805 injuries and 125 fatalities. Among the three types of road debris accident studied, accidents resulting from a driver swerving to avoid an item in the road were found to have the highest associated fatality rate. The researchers suggested that this may be due to drivers colliding with guardrails, neighboring cars, or fixed items outside of the lanes of traffic when trying to avoid striking an object.

The AAA Foundation researchers offered several suggestions on how to reduce the frequency of road debris accidents. The researchers noted that vehicles should maintain a safe distance from the trucks and cars in front of them. This allows drivers a greater amount of time to react should debris fall off a vehicle. If an item of cargo is unavoidable, drivers should slow down as much as they can before making contact with the item. Poor vehicle maintenance can be a contributing factor to road debris collisions. If a muffler or other pieces of hardware attached to the vehicle with metal are allowed to rust, these items can break off in the roadway and cause a safety hazard. Drivers hauling cargo should carefully use ropes, straps, or netting to secure smaller items to the vehicle, but should tie larger items directly to the truck or car. The entire load should then be secured with a tarp or durable netting. If a driver fails to take these steps to secure the cargo, the driver or company transporting the goods may be held liable for the expenses associated with an accident caused by the debris.

If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by items left in the road in New Jersey, seek legal assistance to find out if you may have a claim for money damages by contacting the knowledgeable, dedicated, and effective personal injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your case, at 973-532-9681.

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