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Preventing Debris-Related Crashes: How to Safely Secure Objects to Your Vehicle

Do you feel uneasy when you’re driving behind a minivan towing a trailer of garage sale finds or a pickup truck hauling a suspiciously shaky mattress?

You know, something like this:

You have good reason to be nervous.

A 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study determined more than 200,000 debris-related crashes were reported between 2011 and 2014. These incidents were responsible for nearly 40,000 injuries and over 500 deaths. 

AAA defines a debris-related crash as an incident involving a vehicle that collided with an object that became detached from another vehicle, hit a non-fixed object on the road or crashed after swerving to avoid an oncoming object.

Safely securing objects to your vehicle

Whether you’re moving your child into their college dorm room or bringing a new piece of furniture home from the store, it is your responsibility to safely secure the load to your vehicle.

AAA recommends taking these simple precautions to prevent injuries and save lives:

  • Use rope, netting or straps to tie down the load. Secure furniture or other large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer.
  • Do not overload your vehicle, and cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting to prevent small objects from falling loose.
  • Always double-check your load before you hit the road. If you have any doubts that it will stay secured do not take the risk. Borrow or rent a vehicle that can safely make the trip.

Avoiding debris on the road

While the driver of the vehicle carrying the load is responsible for making sure everything is secured, you unfortunately can’t always rely on them to do so. If the driver doesn’t realize something fell off their vehicle or intentionally keeps driving to dodge legal consequences you could be on the hook for any damage or injuries.

Follow these tips to avoid a debris-related crash:

  • Be especially careful when traveling between 10:00 a.m. and 3:59 p.m. on Interstate highways. More than a third of these incidents occur between those hours.
  • Leave open space in front and on one side of your vehicle whenever possible. Nearly 40% of deaths in debris-related crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid an object on the road.
  • Don’t linger near vehicles carrying large loads, even if the items appear to be secured. Safely pass as soon as you are able.

Check out AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Road Debris Fact Sheet for more information.

Have you ever had a close call with road debris? Share your experiences in the comments.