Road Debris Crashes Caused by Unsecured Loads, Lax Maintenance

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trucksNegligent or distracted driving is the first cause that comes to mind when discussing the common causes of traffic accidents. But a new report by the AAA examines another contributing factor: road debris from unsecured trucks and trailers. According to accident data, more than 204,000 vehicle crashes were caused by roadway debris between 2011 and 2014.  The report found that debris-related crashes were more likely than non-debris-related accidents to occur on Interstate highways, where motorists are driving at high speeds.

“High speeds likely increase the risk of cargo falling from vehicles and parts such as wheels or tires separating from vehicles, and also decrease other drivers’ time available to react to hazards created by airborne debris or debris lying on the road,” states the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Road debris accident report

To put these numbers into perspective, some 500 deaths and more than 39,000 injuries were directly caused by road debris accidents from 2011 to 2014, and more than 35 percent of these crashes resulted from motorists who swerved in an effort to avoid hitting fallen debris.

Common causes of road-debris accidents:

  • Falling cargo such as furniture and appliances
  • Trailers that disengaged from towing vehicles
  • Vehicle parts like tires that become detached from the vehicle
  • Large cargo that was improperly secured
  • Non-vehicle debris such as fallen trees or large boulders in the freeway

Authorities caution that overcorrecting at the last second to avoid debris can increase a driver’s risk of losing control and crashing into other vehicles or stationary objects.

AAA offers the following advice to help prevent injury, property damage or death in a road-debris crash:

  • Allow ample space when following a cargo-carrying vehicle or truck
  • Don’t tailgate
  • Drive defensively
  • Make sure trailers are securely fastened to towing vehicle
  • Keep up on tire and general vehicle maintenance

Liability issues – who can be sued?

Establishing liability in a road debris accident is not always cut and dry. Police reports, accident scene photos and eyewitness testimony are all crucial in helping victims prove who or which parties are at fault. As with any type of collision that results in serious property damage or injury, it’s best to retain the services of an experienced car accident attorney.

Drivers who failed to properly secure their cargo are not the only possible defendants. In some situations, victims may sue:

  • Construction contractors
  • Auto repair technicians or manufacturers
  • Trucking companies that employed the driver
  • Cargo loaders or other subcontractors

New Jersey-based car accident attorneys

Serious car accident injuries can undermine the quality of your life and affect those whom you love most. For expert legal representation, contact the personal injury attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh. Our legal team will work diligently to recover compensation for all hospital and medical bills, lost income, pain and emotional suffering. If you live in northern New Jersey or the greater NYC metro area, we invite you to call 1-888-CALL LAW to arrange a free case evaluation.


  1. USA Today, AAA: Road debris causes avoidable crashes, deaths,
  2. AAA, The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011– 2014