October Newsletter – Road Debris Hazards
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, there is an abundance of debris on the roadsides and roadways. Motorists need to be aware of the hazards road debris can present.
The most common ways that road debris may contribute to accidents is by either:
• Causing a driver to lose control of his vehicle; or
• Being launched by the tires of a car into the windshield of another vehicle.
If an item in the roadway is particularly large, it may also necessitate sudden braking by an approaching driver or require drivers to change lanes, increasing the risk of a collision.
Most drivers have personal experience with having a stone or object strike their windshield, an event that can be very surprising and distracting. In some cases the object will go through the car window, and even strike the driver or another occupant.
A Florida woman lost control of her SUV when she swerved to avoid hitting a tire tread in the middle of the interstate. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, when the woman over-compensated, the SUV overturned before stopping in an upright position. The driver was killed; two passengers were flown to an area hospital in serious condition.
Many causes of auto accidents are due to road debris which can include tree branches, shredded tires, lumber, small objects that fly off other vehicles, and much more. Each can be deadly if encountered on a roadway by a vehicle. The latest report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that not only is road debris a serious and deadly problem, it’s one that is increasing in prevalence.
Swerving to avoid the debris is a common reaction, but it can also be more devastating than hitting the object. Even though hitting the debris may cause damage to your vehicle or injuries to you, swerving into another lane or off the road can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object such as a guardrail.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
What should you do if you are injured in a motor vehicle crash as a result of road debris?
• First, call the police and seek emergency medical care if necessary.
• Second, if you are able to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle carrying the items that became road debris, report the license plate number to the police. Third, photograph the actual debris that caused the accident and the damage to your vehicle.
• Last, contact an attorney and report the accident to your car insurance company. Even if you are unable to identify the vehicle that created the road debris that caused the crash, you may have car insurance that provides coverage for the injuries you sustained.
Beware on Construction Debris on I-4
In a recent report on airing on local television station, WFTV Channel 9, dozens of drivers are claiming the construction work on the I-4 Ultimate project has left them with big repair bills.
More than 60 car owners claim their car was damaged because of something they drove over or hit in the 21-mile work zone. Wheel alignments, and damaged struts and tires are among the repairs cited.
A repair shop employee told Channel 9, customers driving off I-4 are frustrated with the traffic and the damage they said it’s doing to their cars.
“Lots of times it’s uneven pavement that they’ve hit, the wear and tear of the road the way it is,” the employee said.
Based on the list Channel 9 obtained from the Florida Department of Transportation, more than 60 drivers have tried to get the contractor to foot the bill.
A majority of the claims were for damage from potholes, nails or road debris, but only a quarter of the claims were reimbursed.
So far, more than $11,000 has been paid out.
Saying your car was damaged on I-4 is one thing, but proving it is another.
The I-4 Ultimate website shows drivers need documents, such as photos, police reports, witness statements and patrol logs, if a road ranger helped the driver.
According to the employee, they didn’t know drivers could get money if they could prove the damage was caused on I-4, and they plan to tell drivers who come through their shop about it.
The employee said, “It’s good business for us, but bad for the customer who has to deal with that.”
I-4 Ultimate officials said the contractor is required to patrol and repair the roadway when potholes open.