State

AAA study: Drivers aren’t securing their loads on the road

There were more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways during the past four years, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And South Carolina saw more than over 1,600 collisions involving debris from 2011-2014, according to organization data.

Road debris has resulted in more than 1,200 injuries in North and South Carolina between 2011 and 2014, promoting AAA to urge more drivers to properly secure loads onto their vehicles to prevent dangerous debris.

“We want to remind drivers the severity of not securing their loads,” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons, “Motorists can save lives and prevent injuries by taking a few extra minutes to make sure everything is secure.”

AAA researchers examined common characteristics of crashes involving road debris and found that:

▪ ​Nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid hitting an object. Overcorrecting at the last minute to avoid debris can increase a driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle and make a bad situation worse.

▪ More than one-in-three crashes involving debris occur between 10:00 and 3:59 p.m., a time when many people are on the road hauling or moving heavy items like furniture or construction equipment.

▪ Debris-related crashes are much more likely to occur on interstate highways. Driving at high speeds increases the risk for vehicle parts to become detached or cargo to fall onto the roadway.

▪ About two-thirds of debris-related crashes are the result of items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance and unsecured loads.

Crashes involving vehicle related-debris increased 40 percent since 2001, when the foundation first studied the issue.

Currently every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. In both North and South Carolina the fine is $100. AAA encourages drivers to educate themselves about specific road debris laws in their state. Drivers should also practice defensive driving techniques while on the road to prevent debris related crashes from occurring.

AAA also recommends that drivers avoid tailgating and remain alert while on the road. Additional tips on defensive driving and how to report road debris to the proper authorities are available online at AAA.com/PreventRoadDebris.

The most common types of vehicle debris are:

▪ Parts becoming detached from a vehicle (tires, wheels, etc.) and falling onto the roadway

▪ Unsecured cargo like furniture, appliances and other items falling onto the roadway

▪ Tow trailers becoming separated and hitting another vehicle or landing on the roadway

Drivers can decrease their chances of being involved in a road debris crash by: maintaining their vehicles: Drivers should have their vehicles checked regularly by trained mechanics. Badly worn or underinflated tires often suffer blowouts that can leave pieces of tire on the roadway. Exhaust systems and the hardware that attach to the vehicle can also rust and corrode, causing mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Potential tire and exhaust system problems can easily be spotted by trained mechanics as part of the routine maintenance performed during every oil change.

Securing Vehicle Loads: When moving or towing furniture, it is important to make sure all items are secured. To properly secure a load, drivers should:

▪ Tie down load with rope, netting or straps

▪ Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer

▪ Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting

▪ Don’t overload the vehicle

▪ Always double check load to make sure a load is secure

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