When road debris causes a crash, private motorists, truckers, and commercial transportation companies can be held liable for damages. Road debris poses a serious hazard to motorists regardless of how large or how small it may be. It is estimated that about 50,000 accidents each year are caused by debris in the road. These preventable accidents cause thousands of injuries and contribute to hundreds of deaths each year.
Most of these accidents occur on highways where higher speeds and the increased prevalence of debris combine to create a hazardous situation for motorists. From 2011 through 2014, road debris caused more than 200,000 accidents which resulted in 39,000 personal injuries and 500 fatalities.
The Dangers of Shredded Tires
Shredded tires are among the most dangerous types of road debris. Heavy and laced with steel belts, shredded tires can do significant damage to a passenger vehicle. Sometimes known as “road gators,” shredded tires can cause blowouts or seriously damage the undercarriage of a vehicle.
Shredded tires can become entangled within the axle, dislodge mufflers, or puncture oil pans. This damage can cause the driver to lose control over the vehicle and veer into the ditch, guardrail, or other traffic. In Illinois, when a truck driver suffers a blowout, it is his or her responsibility to contact the proper authorities to ensure that the debris is removed from the road.
The Dangers of Flying Debris
Flying debris is among the most dangerous as it often travels at great speed and velocity towards oncoming traffic. Debris that falls off trucks such as furniture, garbage, tree limbs, steel rods, etc. can puncture a vehicle’s windshield and cause serious injuries to the occupants of the vehicle.
Whether road debris is stationary or in motion, drivers have limited options for avoiding the hazard. Nearly 37% of fatal accidents are caused as drivers attempt to swerve and avoid an object. In fact, drivers increase the risk of losing control over their vehicle as they attempt to avoid debris rather than striking it head-on.
Liability for Road Debris
Truck drivers and other motorists are liable for the cargo they carry. When improperly secured cargo spills across the roadway, truckers and loaders can be held liable for the accidents and injuries their negligence causes.
Similarly, property owners can be held liable for improper trimming of trees and the illegal placement of garbage and other debris in the roadway.