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Auto Accidents and Road Debris: Understand the Hazards By Lynn Harris on March 17, 2015

Photograph of a road through a smashed car windowThe road can be a hazardous place. Unfortunately, even the most attentive drivers can become victims of auto accidents due to external circumstances over which they have no control. These traumatic events can threaten your life, cause injury, prevent you from working, and result in costly medical and car repair bills. Attorney Lynn Harris helps victims of car accidents take appropriate legal action to get fair compensation for their damages. Most people realize that other drivers can pose a risk to their safety, but there are many other factors that could contribute to an accident. We assist clients with all types of car accident cases at our Provo and Salt Lake City offices. Below, we explain the connection between auto accidents and road debris. The following information will help you better understand the risks and what you can do to reduce them.

How Does Road Debris Cause Car Accidents?

According to AAA, road debris is responsible for more than 25,000 auto accidents in North America each year. There are many ways that road debris can interfere with driving:

  • Sharp debris could cause flat tires or other auto damage
  • Plastic wrap or other materials could become tangled in the car’s tires or undercarriage, preventing proper motion
  • Flying refuse could surprise or distract the driver
  • Rocks or pebbles could hit the windshield, side mirrors, or windows, obstructing the driver’s vision and potentially causing injury
  • Drivers may brake suddenly or make unsafe lane changes to avoid debris

Common Types of Road Debris

Road debris comes in many forms, including:

  • Branches or leaves from nearby trees
  • Trash drivers have thrown out their windows
  • Metal scraps, rubber, or broken glass from damaged vehicles
  • Gravel and sand, which can become especially dangerous if the road is wet
  • Roadkill
  • Lost cargo, particularly furniture or boxes from pick-up trucks or moving vans

Who Is at Fault for Road Debris?

If the road debris came from another car by falling or being tossed out of it, the driver of that vehicle is responsible for any accidents that occur due to its presence on the road. However, given how quickly cars can move, it may be difficult to find the exact vehicle that left behind the rubbish and prove the driver’s negligence.

If you’re driving on a public street or highway, the governmental agency responsible for maintaining and cleaning the road could be considered negligent and at fault. However, it can be difficult to prove that this organization was aware of the debris, and many governmental agencies claim immunity in these types of cases.

We can help clients who have been victims of auto accidents due to road debris identify the negligent party, collect evidence, and obtain just compensation.  

Advice for Drivers

You can help reduce the risk of auto accidents resulting from road debris by:

  • Making sure to secure any cargo to your vehicle very carefully before getting on the road. This includes furniture, moving boxes, bicycles, and any other items that could potentially obstruct the pathway.
  • If you notice debris on the road, reporting it to the appropriate governmental agency so that they can remove it.
  • Watching the road as you drive.
  • Not braking or swerving suddenly if you see debris. Driving over small, soft debris may be safer than trying to avoid it.
  • Allowing enough space to brake between your car and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If you see debris falling off or out of another vehicle, contacting the highway patrol to alert them to the situation.

Learn More about Auto Accidents and Road Debris

If you’ve been in a car accident resulting from road debris or would like to learn more about this safety issue, please contact our offices to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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Lynn C. Harris

Lynn C. Harris

Lynn Harris is a personal injury attorney dedicated to helping victims rebuild their lives. He does not collect compensation unless you do. Mr. Harris is part of the Jones Waldo law firm, which has five locations in four cities in Utah:

  • Park City
  • Lehi
  • Salt Lake City
  • Provo

He can arrange to meet you at the location nearest you. If you or a loved one has been injured, reach out to our firm online or call (801) 375-9801 today.

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