When you think of large truck-related accidents, you probably imagine truck v. car collisions or tractor-trailer rollovers. While these types of accidents represent the majority of the serious road incidents involving big rigs, they are not the only dangers presented by these large vehicles. Overloaded and unsecured trailer loads and resulting road debris represent very real road hazards.
AAA has reported an average of 125 fatalities and nearly 10,000 injuries from more than 50,000 vehicle accidents each year due to road debris. These types of accidents are four times more likely to happen on the interstate than elsewhere. These statistics were obtained from data provided between 2011 and 2014.
Debris-related crashes include the following:
- Hitting or being hit by an object that falls off another vehicle
- Hitting debris located in a lane of traffic
- Crashing due to an attempt to avoid debris located in a lane of traffic
Common Types of Road Debris
Motorists may encounter virtually any type of debris on the road. The following are some of the more common types of debris generated by big rigs:
- Sand, mud and gravel – This type of road debris may seem minor when compared to other larger, more obvious hazards. But sand, gravel, mud, and pebbles flying off the tires of a big rig can easily cause a traffic accident. Mud flaps are meant to prevent this problem, but they’re not always 100 percent effective. And when a driver suddenly loses visibility due to these things, his resulting driving maneuvers can cause loss of control and collisions.
- Unsecured Cargo – Tractor-trailer loads consist of a wide variety of different types of cargo, from small packages to heavy machinery and hazardous materials and chemicals, and much more. When any of this freight is improperly secured, it can fall off the truck and cause an accident.
- Vehicle parts – Pieces of 18-wheelers do break off on occasion. When these parts strike another vehicle at high speeds, the damages can be severe.
- Blown out tires – Big rigs have a lot of wheels, and long-haul trucks travel many miles. Insufficient maintenance can cause tire blow-outs. The size of these tires makes this type of debris particularly dangerous to other motorists when they encounter the tire debris unexpectedly on the road.
- Accident debris – Debris from a road accident can cause problems for other drivers. Motorists coming up on the aftermath of a recent 18-wheeler accident can easily succumb to this road hazard.
Road debris also represents a danger to big rigs. These huge vehicles have limited handling capabilities, and it’s extremely difficult for a semi-truck driver to stop rapidly or move safely around an object in the roadway with little or no warning. The resulting maneuvers can lead to deadly traffic crashes.
Loose or falling cargo from an 18-wheeler or other large truck is a particularly dangerous hazard. Improperly secured cargo is the most common culprit in these cases. High speeds and heavy loads can be a recipe for disaster in these situations. Rough roadways can exacerbate the potential danger.
Commercial truckers have a responsibility to ensure that their cargo is properly secured before hitting the road. They also need to check throughout their trip that this remains the case. Tarps, load straps, load bars, load locks, and other measures may be necessary for some types of large trucks. But regardless of size, safety and vigilance are crucial.
Despite your own diligence and safe driving, some accidents are simply unavoidable. This is often the case with crashes caused by road debris and unsecured loads. If you’ve been injured in this type of motor vehicle accident, you owe it to yourself to speak with with an experienced Truck Accident Attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.