Road Hazard: Flying Debris Accidents on the Rise
Last updated Friday, September 22nd, 2023
Traveling down the interstate at high speeds comes with its own risks, but it becomes even more dangerous when flying debris from another vehicle crashes through your windshield. A person’s recklessness or disregard when tying down a load can lead to an accident or worse, another person’s death.
What Is Flying Debris?
Flying debris is garbage or objects in the roadway that have fallen or flown off a truck, trailer, or other vehicle and can cause a driving hazard.
Statistically, according to AAA, between 2011 and 2014, 200,000 police-reported crashes were related to road or flying debris. Injuries exceeded about 39,000, and there were approximately 500 deaths. Flying debris accidents are more likely to occur on interstate highways, and most of them are completely preventable.
Let’s put this into perspective. How often do you travel down the interstate behind a vehicle with a full trailer loaded with stuff that is not tied down properly? Many times the debris will fly off and end up on the road. Other times it can result in damaging other vehicles on the road, possibly causing injuries. A 20-pound unsecured object flying off of a moving vehicle or trailer traveling at 55 miles per hour has a g-force of 1,000 pounds on impact.
What to Do if Flying Debris Strikes You
Flying debris can strike instantly. In October 2018, a Florida driver was nearly impaled as a piece of plywood smashed through his windshield as he was traveling on I-95. Fortunately, he was able to walk away unharmed. Photo from the Brevard County Fire Rescue’s Facebook page. Click here for story.
In the event you are hit by flying debris, don’t panic. Here are a few things you should do to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
- Call the police – If you feel as though you can’t get out of your vehicle or you are seriously injured, call the police first. If you feel like you can move, then you do your best to get out of harm’s way before making the call.
- Get to a safe location – Get out of the flow of moving traffic. Pull over to a safe place if possible. If you can’t move your vehicle, get out of the car and move to a safe place.
- Collect available evidence – Again, if you are not seriously injured, try to collect evidence relevant to the accident. If the responsible party stops, collect personal and vehicle information. Take as many pictures as possible from various angles. Documenting property damage, your injuries, the area around you, and the vehicles can help you when filing a claim later.
Who Is Financially Responsible When Flying Debris Hits My Car?
In most situations, the driver of the vehicle from which an object flew would be responsible for any personal injuries or damages to your vehicle if negligence can be proven. For example, the driver did not properly check to make sure that the load was secured.
In the event that the responsible party does not stop and you are unable to collect any evidence, you may still be able to file an insurance claim. In many instances, you may be able to file a comprehensive claim against your insurance company, which is often a lower deductible than collision claims. Make sure that your damages exceed your deductible before filing.
Tips to Avoid Road Debris
“Our attorneys at Isaacs & Isaacs have handled a number of cases as a result of people who have been injured by debris coming from other vehicles,” stated car accident lawyer Darryl Isaacs. “It is important to be aware of what to do in these types of situations as a driver since you only have seconds to react on the road when faced with debris coming at your vehicle.”
Our first instinct to avoid road or flying debris is to swerve which could lead to more damage to your vehicle, loss of control or a collision. According to AAA, there are several tips that you can follow to avoid hitting road debris.
- Drivers should constantly keep their eyes on the road and search the road ahead about 12 to 15 seconds for debris.
- Do not tailgate! By maintaining at least 3 to 4 seconds of following distance, you are more likely to see potential objects in the road easier.
- If you see that you are about to make contact with debris, safely reduce your speed as much as possible prior to making contact.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Drivers should maintain open space in the front and at least one side of the vehicle at all times, so that you may maneuver around debris.
- Remember, do not swerve. If you try to swerve out of the way, you may lose control of your vehicle, which is an extremely dangerous situation. Only drive around an object if you have enough time to do so.
How to Properly Secure Your Load
According to Bull Ring and AAA there are some guidelines you can follow when it comes to properly tying down a load. You don’t want to run into a situation where you are the one causing an accident. So, here is a list of the best practices to follow.
- Get the Right Equipment – Make sure you have the right components to secure your cargo. Depending on what you are carrying, you may have to invest in some heavy-duty tie-down straps or hatchet straps. Locate your vehicle’s anchor points for proper anchoring.
- Know Your Truck/Trailer’s Load Capacity – It is important to know your truck/trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and capacity before even beginning to load up. The GVWR label can be found on the rim of your driver’s door or in your user manual.
- Position Heavier Items Towards the Cab – Position heavier items to the front of your truck or trailer. This will prevent them from becoming back-weighted, which can cause poor steering and handling. You should also try your best to even out the weight on both sides. Tying heavier objects directly to the trailer will also help secure your load.
- Secure Cargo on at Least Two Sides – Once you have completed the steps above, it’s time to tie down your load. Make sure that you tie down the load on at least two sides using the ratchet straps and anchor points mentioned above. You should also secure the straps to the load itself if it is possible to do so. It needs to be as secure as possible for transport.
- Flag Long Loads – Finally, after you have secured your cargo, attach a red flag on the end of any overhanging items. This is to protect other drivers, but it is also the law. Failure to do this could result in a traffic ticket or fine.
- Cover Loads – Cover your load with a sturdy tarp or netting.
- Double Check Load – Always make sure your load is properly secure.
Filing a Legal Claim
In the event that you were able to get the information of the driver responsible and evidence of the accident, then you may have a claim against that person. If not, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company.
Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Law Firm is dedicated to protecting you from another’s wrongful act or lack of care for the safety and health of others. Our lawyers in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio have 346 collective years of legal experience. Call 800-333-9999
for a free case review.