A few months ago my wife and I were travelling on I-65 North from Nashville headed to Cincinnati when an orange cone blew out of a Nashville Electric Service truck. The cone then blew across the road into my lane. I resisted the tendency to swerve around it so as not to cause an accident to myself or others. I ran over the cone. Yes, it was a hard plastic cone but it resulted in $400 worth of repairs. Fortunately, neither my wife or I were injured.
I see this happen too many times when people fail to take the necessary safety precautions in securing their cargo. As far Nashville, the most common issue are ladders. Contractors seem unable to hold on to their ladders. It is NOT enough to simply throw a ladder on the back of the truck or put a tool box on it to hold it down. Ladders need to be TIED DOWN. In fact, any cargo needs to be secured.
I’m a bit animated about this issue since a vehicle I was driving was struck by two semi-truck ties nearly 10 years ago. I was lucky to escape serious injury as one of the tires nearly missed the driver’s side. It is something I will never forget on that day returning from Columbia, South Carolina. My vehicle was totaled.
Just this week a 25-year-old women was injured after being struck by road debris that crashed through her windshield on Florida’s Turnpike as a piece of metal flew up from the roadway.
According to AAA, two-thirds of crashes that involve objects on the roadway are the result of debris falling off a vehicle. Between 2011-2014, debris on American roadways played a key role in more than 200,00 reported crashes and 500 deaths. More than a third of all deaths in these crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid the object.
In 16 states, the person responsible for the debris can face some jail time.
Here are some tips for drivers on dealing with debris:
Drivers must ensure all parts are securely attached and maintained
Replace worn tires as this can result in blowouts and large pieces of rubber in the roadway
Replace rusted hardware
Tie down cargo securely with rope, nettings or straps directly to the truck or trailer bed.
Don’t overload the vehicle
When following vehicles with loads, be defensive and leave plenty of space.
Drivers should continually search the road ahead at least 12 to 15 seconds for debris
If you see you are about to make contact with debris, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact
Always be aware of open space around your vehicle in case you need to make suddenly lane changes to avoid the debris
The mentality of “just throw in on the truck” is not good enough. Tie it down. Secure it as if someone from your family will be following behind you. Don’t be lazy about it or try to push the limit. Just this morning on the commute to work my wife and I ended up behind a truck hauling a trailer overloaded with wooden pallets. Yes, they were strapped down but it was more than should have been loaded on the trailer. It was a hazard. I wasn’t very comfortable riding behind it and was relieved when they changed lanes (and in addition to the load, the rear lights didn’t work on their trailer either).
Don’t assume. Be safe when it comes to securing your load.