A recent fatal motorcycle crash reminds us of the dangers of road debris for Georgia motorcycle riders. This past weekend, a Texas man lost his life after hitting a mattress that was in the road. Reports indicate that the rider saw the mattress, tried to avoid it, but wasn’t able to do so. He flew off his bike and landed on the pavement with a fatal head injury. At the time of this bike crash, the rider was not wearing a helmet.
Road debris is a hazard for all travelers. Road debris is particularly dangerous for cyclists and bike riders whose ability to scan the road ahead might well be blocked or hindered by other larger vehicles. Riding “defensively” can only do so much. Riders know they need to scan the road ahead and maintain calm when something unexpected appears on the roadway. It isn’t always possible to manage a way around debris, especially if it is large or it is positioned in a way that makes it difficult for the rider to move out of harm’s way. Cyclists often riding near the road shoulder and they know this is precisely where debris gathers. And it is also the most likely location a cyclist would use to avoid debris on a bike lane or roadway.
Over a decade ago, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published a study on road debris which revealed that debris causes 25,000 accidents and about 100 fatalities per year. There are many tragic stories of road debris crashes in which debris falls and hits another vehicle. This can cause catastrophic injuries and death. Some of these accidents can be avoided. In many cases, all that is required to possibly save lives is to better secure cargo so that it doesn’t fall during travel.
What can riders and drivers do to avoid serious injury due to road debris? First, pay attention especially when traveling behind or near a loaded vehicle. Stay back if you think the load is precarious and could fall. If necessary, change lanes to move away from the loaded vehicle. Take a defensive move by checking around the area to see where you might be able to pull over if debris fall. And finally, consider just driving over the debris if you come upon something in the road. Many accidents, like the one that took the Texas biker’s life, happen because drivers lose control when they are attempting to avoid debris in the road.
The AAA suggests that loading vehicles properly requires training. They suggested in the study that law enforcement needs to cite those driving vehicles that do not have secure cargo. They also suggested that drivers with a load should stop from time to time to make sure it is secure.
If you or someone you know has been injured while driving, in an accident due to road debris, legal representation can help. It is key to determine how the debris ended up on the road and whether someone can be held responsible. Please contact Scholle Law for a complimentary evaluation of your case or accident.