Prevent Road Debris

Between 2011-2014, road debris was a factor in a total of more than 200,000 police-reported crashes, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. Road debris can be extremely dangerous to motorists, especially on roadways where cars travel at high speeds and have less time to react to objects in the road.

Many debris-related crashes are preventable. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, two in three debris-related crashes result from items falling from a vehicle due to improper maintenance or an unsecured load. Common types of road debris include: parts becoming detached from the vehicle (e.g. tires and wheels), unsecured cargo (e.g. furniture and appliances), and tow trailers becoming separated and hitting other vehicles.

Every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while on the road. Most states’ penalties result in fines ranging from $10—$5,000, with at least 16 states listing jail as a possible punishment for offenders.

Drivers can prevent road debris crashes by taking simple precautions to prevent items from falling off their vehicles. Learn more about road debris and tips to avoid your risk of crashing here.


There are several key characteristics of road debris-related crashes.

Know the Facts Know the Risks
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.

 

One in three 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.

 

One in three crashes involving debris occur between 10:00 a.m. and 3:59 p.m. This is a popular time of day when many people are on the road hauling or moving heavy items like furniture or construction equipment.


  1. Maintain Your Vehicle— Badly worn or underinflated tires can result in blowouts that can leave pieces of tire on the roadway. Similarly, exhaust systems and the hardware that attach to the vehicle can corrode and cause mufflers and other parts to drag and eventually break loose. Potential tire and exhaust problems can easily be spotted by trained mechanics as part of the routine maintenance performed during every oil change.
  2. Secure Vehicle LoadsWhen moving, towing furniture, or transporting items in an open truck bed, it is important to make sure all items are secured.
    1. Tie down load with rope, netting or straps
    2. Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
    3. Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
    4. Don’t overload the vehicle
    5. Always double check load to make sure a load is secure


  1. Drivers should continually search the road ahead at least 12 to 15 seconds for debris
  2. Don’t tailgate! By maintaining leaving at least 3 to 4 seconds of following distance, you can see potential objects in the road ahead easier.
  3. If you see you are about to make contact with debris, say with a piece of tire, safely reduce your speed as much as possible prior to making contact.
  4. When driving at dusk and dawn be especially alert for animals on or near the roadway
  5. Lastly, always be aware of open space around your vehicle.
    1. Drivers should maintain open space to the front and at least one side of their vehicle at all times
    2. Should the need arise, a driver can steer into that open space to avoid contact with an object.