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Crashes Involving Road Debris – Scope of the Problem and Mitigation

Release Date: August 24, 2016

Results from a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggest that road debris was a factor in an estimated average of 50,658 police-reported crashes, which resulted in 9,805 injuries and 125 deaths annually in the United States over the years 2011-2014. Debris-related crashes were more likely than non-debris-related crashes to result in property-damage only; debris-related crashes were roughly half as likely as non-debris-related crashes to result in injury or death.

Compared with crashes that did not involve debris, debris-related crashes were approximately four times as likely to occur on interstate highways. High speeds can increase the risk of cargo falling from vehicles; increase the chance of wheels, tires, or other parts separating from vehicles; and decrease the time a driver has to react to hazards created by airborne debris or debris lying on the road.

For the study, debris-related crashes were defined as crashes in which a vehicle struck or was struck by an object that fell or became detached from another vehicle, struck a non-fixed object on the roadway, or crashed after swerving to avoid an object on the roadway. Crashes that involved live animals, trees falling onto vehicles, debris associated with a recent previous crash, construction-related debris in work zones, or debris outside of the travel lane were not counted as debris-related crashes.

To avoid being involved in a debris-related crash, focus on the following:

Additionally, it is every driver’s responsibility to assure that the contents of their vehicle are properly secured, intermittently check the securement devices during a trip, and properly maintain the vehicle. Should something dislodge from a vehicle, the driver needs to protect the scene where possible, move the item(s) off the roadway when safe to do so, and notify law enforcement about hazards to other drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014 can be accessed at http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RoadDebris_REPORT_2015.pdf.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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