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Nashville Attorney Phillip Miller Talks About Road Debris Accidents

Road Debris Accidents

Roadway Debris Can Be Deadly

Recently there was an interesting local Nashville TV piece about road debris accidents. Sometime later I was on my way to a trial consultant visit with a client law firm in Chicago and saw an interesting article about road debris accidents in a national newspaper. I am very familiar with road debris accidents and have been involved in a number of Tennessee tractor-trailer accidents and Tennessee motorcycle accident road debris lawsuits in the past. I think it’s important to share this information with you and hope you will share it with others. Just maybe we can save a life.

The article referenced a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety under the title “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014.” The Foundation has been instrumental in the study of highway safety. The Foundation’s Mission Statement says it all. “The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was founded in 1947 by AAA to conduct research to address growing highway safety issues. The organization’s mission is to identify traffic safety problems, foster research that seeks solutions and disseminate information and educational materials.”

In a nutshell, this long-term study clearly and concisely lays out the data,
“Results suggest that road debris was a factor in an estimated average of 50,658 police-reported crashes which resulted in 9,805 injuries (7,714 – 11,896) and 125 deaths (104 – 144) annually in the United States over years 2011 – 2014. Compared with crashes that did not involve road debris, road debris-related crashes were approximately 4 times as likely to occur on Interstate highways. Compared with all drivers involved in crashes, drivers who struck or were struck by debris were approximately 20% more likely to be men.”

A third of the deaths started with a driver swerving to avoid hitting debris, the report said. In other instances, vehicles struck the debris, which often set off a chain-reaction of collisions.

I’m sure we are all far too busy for me to go off into trying to figure out why the statistics show that more men than women were struck by or who struck debris, so I’m going to let that curve ball pass without taking a swing.

I digress, apologies. We’ve all seen road debris, blown truck tires, air conditioners, swing sets and live stock. I was not trying to be funny, I was amazed at how often air conditioners and swing sets actually caused serious and often fatal crashes. I won’t follow that thread either.

The legal literature on Road Debris accidents tells me that the major culprits are private citizens and companies that don’t properly secure their loads. Non-professional haulers, friend’s pickups and rental trucks drivers usually don’t have a clue about how to tie down a load. Once an item falls onto the road there is really not much time for the drivers following along to take evasive action and as I mentioned earlier many road debris accidents are caused by drivers swerving to avoid hitting the roadway debris. To hit an object or to swerve to avoid it is a choice that a driver has to make in a tiny fraction of a second and neither one is a safe choice.

What Can We Do?

First thing would be to practice safe driving tactics. Don’t follow the vehicle in front of you to closely. Do not allow yourself to become distracted and keep an eye out on the traffic in front of you. How close is to close? Give yourself at least one full car length for every ten miles per hour you are traveling. Keep your eye out and know where all vehicles around you are at all times. Avoid distractions.

As I thought a little more it occurred to me that there is something that we non-haulers can and must commit to do. Once you see road debris, debris that could cause a highway fatality, pull over and call it in. Call 911 and be prepared to give them a usable location such as a mile marker or an exit number. If you are outside of a city or town absent 911 service dial the Tennessee Highway Patrol at *THP.

Motorcycle Accidents

Having tried and consulted on dozens of high damage motorcycle accidents in Tennessee and across the country, I started thinking about road debris motorcycle accidents. Just think about how much more deadly even small debris could be to a motorcyclist. Which reminds me to remind people with gravel driveways to keep your gravel off of the roadway. A few pieces of gravel could send a motorcyclist into a death slide. It happens far too often.

Legal Liability

Suing for damages caused by road debris is a tricky proposition, with a number of causation issues so, if you or a loved one is injured or killed in a Tennessee road debris accident it is imperative that you contact an experienced Tennessee personal injury lawyer immediately so that evidence and witness statements can be preserved.

At the Phillip Miller Law Office we provide a free analysis of your case. Call us at 615-356-2000.

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