On November 13th, nearly two dozen cars driving on the Northern freeway in Houston had their tires blown out because of debris. This isn’t a freak accident. It’s a lot more common than you’d think.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that from 2011 to 2014 over 200,000 crashes in the U.S. were caused by or involved road debris. From that, almost 40,000 resulted in injuries, while 500 people reportedly died in the accidents.
Who Is Responsible?
Well, the first instinct would be to consider the person driving the cargo that has unloaded on the road responsible for not properly securing the load and being reckless. State legislature forbids vehicles carrying any cargo to travel on roads if they do not adequately secure it before.
However, the AAA says that some of the responsibility belongs to the other drivers on the road too. In some cases, accidents involving debris take place because of the mistakes people make while trying to avoid the debris. They panic, stop paying attention to their surroundings, and that’s when bigger collisions may occur.
Here are a few important facts to be aware of when it comes to car wrecks in Houston today and the road debris they may leave behind:
- Keep Your Distance
If you notice debris on the road, it’s best to gently apply the brakes and slow down the car to keep some distance between you and the vehicle losing its load. While the debris on the road may not be that overwhelming, in this case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
So, if you notice any warning signs, slow down the vehicle to give yourself enough time to act if necessary.
- Try to Switch Lanes
If you leave yourself enough time by slowing the car, you could switch lanes and avoid the debris altogether. However, you should pay attention to the road and make sure the other path isn’t also affected by the wreckage, and it’s safe to switch.
- Pull over and Call the Authorities
Another thing you can do if there’s debris in your way is to get off the road and call for help. Pull over and stop the vehicle, then call the non-emergency number for the police to report the debris in your location.
Or, you can also call the number on the back of your driver’s license for the DPS Roadside Assistance, since they handle these issues as well.
What Happens When You Can’t Avoid Debris?
Unfortunately, in some cases these events can unleash in one split second, leaving you with no possibility to react to avoid debris fully. If this happens, there are still some things you can do to minimize the damages.
First, if you’re headed toward road debris and can’t switch lanes to get away from it, take your foot off the gas to slow down the car. Slamming the brakes would be your first instinct, but you risk being hit by the vehicle behind you. If you don’t have the proper time to react, neither do the cars behind.
Try, as best you can, to keep both hands on the wheel when hitting the debris. That will stabilize the vehicle so that it doesn’t switch lanes and hit another car. When the coast is clear, try to pull over in a safe place if the vehicle isn’t too damaged, or get out of the car and to safety on foot. Then, report the accident and wait for proper authorities.
Back to You
One last thing before you go: Always keep your eyes on the road. If you want to have enough time to react and avoid debris or an accident, you have to pay attention to the road. It’s one of the first things they teach you when you first got behind the wheel, yet as some drivers gain more experience, they tend to overlook this small yet critical rule.