More than 200,000 reported crashes and 500 deaths in the U.S. the last 4 years are being linked to dangerous debris.
AAA released findings from a new study showing road debris has resulted in these staggering numbers. Though the study was done nation-wide, Texas is indeed a large contributor to those crashes and deaths.
We've all seen it....drivers hauling large items like a mattress or piles of wood.
According to AAA, about two-thirds of debris-related crashes result from items falling off vehicles because drivers improperly secure the load. Crashes involving debris on the roads were about 4 times more likely to occur on a highway, which can make crashes more dangerous.
"You don't have to drive very far here in Texas to find some type of debris in the roadway, whether it be pieces of furniture or pieces of a vehicle or even tire treads in the middle of the lanes of traffic," says AAA Spokesperson Doug Shupe.
TxDOT officials in Amarillo and across the Panhandle are well aware of the ongoing issue. In Amarillo, they have a crew dedicated to patrolling the roads and removing debris.
In the 17-county Amarillo District, TxDOT has spent $629,577 in 2016 on debris removal.
And the debris are especially dangerous when people try one technique to avoid it.
"Nearly 37 percent of the fatalities that happen in road debris crashes happen when a driver swerves to avoid something and then over corrects leading to a collision, a rollover crash," says Shupe. "So, that is a very dangerous activity."
But there are a few things you can do to avoid being put in a dangerous situation. For those transporting, secure your loads.
"Be sure that you're not over-loading the backs of pick up trucks. We've all seen those pickup trucks or other vehicles that are just overloaded with belongings," Shupe said.
Here in Texas, if you have something that falls into traffic, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $25 and $500.