Between 2011 and 2014, approximately 39,000 people sustained injuries in crashes caused by items in the road, according to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
In addition, according to USA Today, 500 people died due to roadway debris. One-third of these fatalities resulted from a driver swerving to avoid the debris. Other cases involve drivers striking the debris and causing multiple-vehicle collisions. The study found that one-third of the crashes occurred on interstates.
Some crashes recorded in the study involved debris most people would think about, such as pieces of a tire and tree refuse. However, other examples included larger items such as sofas, swing-sets, and boat trailers.
The research director urges drivers to take the necessary precautions when hauling items with their vehicle, because many of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented.
USA Today reports that crashes and fatalities due to roadway debris increased from a 2001 study.
States have varying punishments for dropping items onto the road. In Delaware, a fine may only be $10, where in Washington, a $5000 fine and jail time can be expected.
For motorists, driving defensively is the key to avoiding road debris. Refrain from tailgating the vehicle in front of you and scan the road every once in a while for debris.