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Study: Road Debris Responsible For 500 Deaths
AAA study finds 500 motorists died over four years in accidents caused by debris falling in the road.

AAA debris report cover
More people die in accidents caused by unsecured loads on commercial vehicles than from accidents involving right hand turns against a red light. According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report released last week, highway debris was responsible for 200,000 automobile crashes and 500 deaths in four years. The foundation gathered data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration road accident databases and counted the number of incidents that were caused by objects falling into the roadway between 2011 and 2014.

The study zeroed in on crashes involving vehicles that struck an object in the middle of the roadway or that crashed while trying to avoid objects. The determination was made based on the coded selections in police reports listing debris as a "pre-crash critical event." These covered accidents in which wheels or driveshafts flew off a car, trailers became detached, or furniture fell out of the back of a pickup truck, creating dangerous obstacles for everyone on the road behind. If large rocks or trees fell into the road, these were counted as "non-vehicle-related" debris.

The results of the foundation analysis showed debris-related incidents happened most often on interstate highways. About 37 percent of the incidents were caused by drivers swerving to avoid objects in the road.

As one of the country's largest auto insurance providers, AAA used the results as to highlight the importance of issuing traffic tickets. Potential penalties for dropping something on the road range from a minimum of $10 in Wisconsin to a maximum of $5000 in Washington state. Most states impose license points on these tickets, which allow insurance companies to raise rates on citation recipients.

"It's important for drivers to know that many states have hefty fines and penalties for drivers who drop items from their vehicle onto the roadway, and in some cases states impose jail time," AAA state relations director Jennifer Ryan said in a statement.

The report recommends that commercial vehicle drivers take more care in securing their loads and that other drivers regularly check their tires and overall vehicle condition.

A copy of the report is available in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris (AAA Traffic Safety Foundation, 8/11/2016)

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