Road Debris is a Common Problem in Canada
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
When motorists think of road debris, the first thought that comes to mind may be dirt, sand or road salt that's laid down in the winter months in order to give the roadways some traction following inclement weather or a major storm. While these may meet the classification, the rise of YouTube and dashboard-mounted cameras has demonstrated that there are many other forms of debris that motorists come into contact with - oftentimes significant enough to require a car insurance claim, according to Michael Vaughan in a special for the Globe and Mail.
One of the more dangerous scenarios that can be witnessed online, Vaughan noted, occurred in New Brunswick, this after a motorist ran over something that caused the car to lurch forward. Not thinking anything of it, the driver decided to continue on his journey.
It wasn't until he arrived at his intended destination that he found the source of his literal "bump" in the road: a sizeable chunk of angle iron that actually tore through the bottom of the vehicle, found lodged in a portion of the backseat.
Road debris comes in various shapes and sizes
Vaughan noted that he himself has witnessed close calls where road debris posed a safety hazard to everyone that was driving. Among them, chairs have fallen off truck beds, coolers found in the middle of traffic, bags and boxes strewn on the highway, as well as furniture observed flying off of cars.
"I even had a large SUV roar past me on the 400 at warp speed while towing a large boat on an undersized trailer," Vaughan stated. "I sensed danger."
His intuition proved to be on the mark, as mere moments later, one of the vehicle's tires popped, causing the trailer to swerve almost completely out of control. Amazingly, Vaughan stated, the SUV didn't flip over. Not only that, the driver was able to safely pull off to the side of the road so that he could attend to the tire blowout.
Expect the unexpected
In short, while distracted driving, motorists who are impaired and wild weather are all safety issues to be aware of, motorists should be vigilant about road debris and to try to anticipate potential accidents that may happen. For example, if behind a driver who's carrying a large load that looks precarious, it's best to either pull off to the side of the road or increase one's following distance.
Motorists may remember that in 2010, a Calgary driver was tragically killed after a broken brake drum that had fallen off of a vehicle was kicked up by a commercial truck. Weighing nearly 14 kilograms, the drum smashed through the windshield, killing the driver instantly. CBC News reported at the time that maintenance workers in Alberta's capital see roadway debris on a regular basis.
Though there aren't any official statistics in Canada, a 2011 U.S. study found that 800 drivers were killed in that year due to accidents caused by road debris, Vaughan noted based on a study performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.