There are a lot of things drivers need to keep a watch out for during even the simplest of trips. Surely, no one knows this fact more than an automobile accident lawyer. As a Panama City personal injury attorney, we know that drivers need to focus on driving – keeping alert for other drivers, motorcyclists, bicycle riders, pedestrian, stopped cars, traffic signs/signals, and road conditions. Drivers must also filter out distractions such as ringing cell phones and bickering children in the back seat. Drivers also need to be prepared for the unexpected. One unexpected threat, and the focus of this post, is potentially dangerous roadway debris, particularly vehicle-related debris.
Mike Cazalas is a columnist for the News Herald. In a recent entry, he shared a trip to Biloxi that had him travelling on I-10 in Mississippi. Cazalas, who emphasizes that he had not been texting at the time of the event, was nearing the crest of a small bridge when he noticed a van ahead of him. He watched as the van suddenly swerved left, nearly colliding with a car in another lane and forcing it to shift to the left itself. Next, the van swung back to the right, with the combined motions leaving the van rocking on its tires. These events occurred in all of one or two seconds, leaving Cazalas braking to prevent a crash and, as he admits, to try to see the cause of the behavior.
As Cazalas pulled forward, he saw the culprit: a large piece of metal that he likened to "Hercules' baseball bat" sitting in their travelling lane. Police later identified the item as a portion of "short transmission" that had fallen from an 18-wheeler that was just a bit in front of Cazalas and the other drivers. While one of the pricey tires on Cazalas's new car fell victim to the debris, he and the others in the area were lucky that there were no injuries. It could have easily ended with the van, the car near it, and Cazalas's new vehicle the center of a multi-vehicle pile-up with serious injuries or even fatalities.
A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety focuses on Vehicle-Related Road Debris ("VRRD"), defined as material – including parts or cargo – that is inadvertently dropped from a vehicle onto the road surface. The study found that 25,000 crashes occur each year in North America as a result of VRRD. These VRRD-caused crashes are less common than other types of crashes and generally less severe, but the VRRD accidents still claim 80-90 lives annually. The Foundation referenced a survey of U.S. and Canadian road authorities that found the most common types of VRRD are: Tire Treads; Garbage released from waste trucks, and; Lumber and other construction materials.
Education is the backbone of the Foundation's recommendations aimed at preventing VRRD crashes. This includes educating drivers to prevent VRRD from falling on the road, such as teaching motorists how to secure loads and teaching fleet maintenance personnel how to prevent wheel separation. Teaching defensive driving skills is also recommended.
If a VRRD-related crash caused you injury or claimed the life of a loved one, call our firm. You may have a number of different civil claims, including claims against the driver of the vehicle responsible for the VRRD or, in the case of commercial trucks, the company that owns or operates the truck. Call to arrange a free consultation to discuss your case with our Panama City road debris accident lawyer. Our team can help you obtain crucial money damages to help with medical bills, lost wages, and the long-term impact of the accident.