We’ve mentioned before that driver’s education and safe driving is a lifelong pursuit – there isn’t just one concrete set of rules to follow to instantly become a safe driver. Practicing safe driving principles relies on constant learning, adaptation, and, most importantly, awareness of the road you’re on.
Case in point: what happens when you’re practicing safe driving principles on the highway, but the roads themselves are unsafe?
It’s Difficult with Road Debris
No matter how clean the local roads and highways are, we’ve all seen them littered with at least some form of potentially dangerous matter. Tires, crushed bumpers, mattresses, even random things like bags of clothes – it’s surprisingly uncommon to see all of these, even if you don’t live in one of the states with the worst roads in the nation.
In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that over 800 drivers were killed in the United States by “non-fixed objects” – which includes road debris. In 2004, an American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that vehicle-related road debris (tires, etc.) caused 25,000 accidents every year.
The danger of road debris is very real, and can affect all drivers at any time. No matter where you live, foreign objects can litter freeways for any reason, including:
- Previous highway collisions leading to car parts falling off
- Furniture and moving boxes falling off/out of vehicles
- Natural disasters such as tornadoes and storms causing trees to fall in the road
Avoiding the Dangers of Road Debris
Preventing any potential dangerous incidents involving road debris can often be difficult, but well worth it. The first step is to constantly maintain road awareness when you’re on a high-speed road such as a freeway. You’ll often be alerted to road debris before you see it, as the cars in front of you will slow down and look as if they’re attempting to drive around an object.
If you come across a sudden foreign object on the road and you’re maintaining an already high speed, try not to slam on the brakes and maneuver around the object can smoothly as you can. A sharp turn of the steering wheel can result in loss of control of the vehicle, and additionally cause panic behind you, greatly increasing the chances of a multi-car incident.
No matter what, try to never run over the road debris – the chances of danger are much higher than if you attempted to avoid it. Even something as seemingly harmless as a block of styrofoam can lodge itself in the wheel well of a vehicle and cause incredible damage to your vehicle – and may even result in a collision on the road if your car ends up non-functional.
Preventing the Prevalence of Road Debris
Drivers can also solve any issues with road debris by getting to the heart of the issue. By gaining knowledge in how to better secure any heavy loads onto our vehicles, we can help tackle the dangers of debris on our freeways by removing that variable entirely from the equation.
Education and periodic vehicle and cargo inspection can go a long way into ensuring our roads are clean and safe to drive for everybody.