Road Debris Dangers

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A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roadways during the past four years. That has resulted in about 39,000 injuries and over 500 deaths between 2011 and 2014. Stephanie Moe of AAA Arizona will discuss the study.

TED SIMONS: A NEW TRIPLE A STUDY LOOKS AT VARIOUS KINDS OF DEBRIS ON U.S.
ROADWAYS AND HOW THAT DEBRIS IMPACTS VEHICLE ACCIDENTS. HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE STUDY IS STEPHANIE MOE OF AAA ARIZONA. WELCOME TO ARIZONA, GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.
STEPHANIE MOE: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: DEFINE ROAD DEBRIS. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

STEPHANIE MOE: IT IS ANYTHING ON THE ROAD THAT SHOULD NOT BE THERE. VEHICLE COMPONENTS, WHEELS, TIRES, MIRRORS, RUSTED PORTIONS OF THE VEHICLE, EXHAUST. THERE IS THAT AND THERE IS ALSO ANYTHING THAT PEOPLE MIGHT BE HAULING OR TRANSPORTING. APPLIANCES, FURNITURE, ANY OF THE RANDOM STUFF YOU SEE ON THE HIGHWAY THAT SHOULDN'T BE THERE-- THAT ARE WHAT INCLUDED IN THE STUDY.

TED SIMONS: YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT UNSECURE CARGO FROM THE VEHICLES-- ALSO LIKE TRAILERS. I WOULD IMAGINE A TRAILER GETS LOST AND THAT'S IN THE ROADWAY AND THAT IS DEBRIS.

STEPHANIE MOE: Absolutely.

TED SIMONS: THAT DEBRIS IS CAUSING ACCIDENTS AND DID THE STUDY FOUND ACCIDENTS MORE THAN WE THOUGHT? MORE SERIOUS THAN WE THOUGHT-- WHAT DID THE STUDIES SHOW?

STEPHANIE MOE: YES, ROAD DEBRIS RELATED CRASHES INCREASED MORE THAN 40% FROM 2001. THE AAA FOUNDATION FOR TRAFFIC SAFETY WANTED TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK. WE DID A FOUR YEARS FROM 2011 TO 2014 AND THE RESULTS WERE SURPRISING. WE FOUND MORE THAN 200,000 ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY THERE DEBRIS. THIS LEAD TO 39,000 INJURIES AND MORE THAN 500 FATALITIES.

TED SIMONS: DO WE KNOW WHY THE INCREASE-- WHAT IS GOING ON OUT THERE?

STEPHANIE MOE: IT IS HARD TO PINPOINT THE EXACT REASON. THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE VEHICLES ON THE ROADWAY ARE TEN YEARS OR MORE NOW. IF THEY ARE NOT ADEQUATELY MAINTAINED THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE COMPONENTS FALL OFF OR OLDER TIRES COULD CAUSE A BLOW OUT OR VEHICLE EXHAUST COMPONENTS COULD COME OUT. THAT IS ONE OF THE MAIN THINGS ATTRIBUTED TO THE INCREASE.

TED SIMONS: Have we seen the increase in both debris and accident on highways, roadways, streets-- what are we seeing out there?

STEPHANIE MOE: IT IS MORE LIKELY ON INTERSTATES. YOU ARE TRAVELING FASTER, WHICH MEANS THAT ITEAMS ARE MORE LIKELY TO COME OUT UNSECURED. ALSO 37% OF THE FATALITIES WE FOUND WERE ON INTERSTATES BECAUSE THE DRIVERS OVERCORRECTED, SWERVING, AND LOST CONTROL OF THEIR CAR TRYING TO AVOID WHATEVER WAS IN THE ROADWAY AND COULDN'T DO IT AT THAT SPEED.

TED SIMONS: YOU MENTION HIGH SPEED AND OVER CORRECTING AND YOU HAVE LITTLE TIME TO REACT AND I WOULD IMAGINE ANY DEBRIS OUT THERE IS A PROBLEM.

STEPHANIE MOE: WE ADVISE MOTORISTS TO DO IS TO EMPLOY PRETTY CLASSY DEFENSIVE DRIVING TECHNIQUE-- STAY ALERT, SCAN THE ROAD 12 15 SECONDS AHEAD OF YOU AND ALWAYS LEAVE YOURSELF AN OUT. SOME PLACE THAT YOU CAN ESCAPE TO THE LAIN NEXT TO YOU. IF IS UNAVOIDABLE SLOW DOWN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BEFORE IMPACT.

TED SIMONS: I READ MOST CRASHES ARE BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 4 P.M. IS THAT BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST OUT THERE?

STEPHANIE MOE: yes, is the most common time for people making deliveries or transporting things like furniture, appliances and construction equipment. Things like that.

TED SIMONS: AND THE REPORT SAID ALL OF THESE ACCIDENTS ARE PREVENTABLE. EXPLAIN, PLEASE.

STEPHANIE MOE: IN AAA LAND WE REFER TO ACCIDENTS AS A CRASHES BECAUSE THEY ARE PREVENTABLE. THEY ARE NOT ACCIDENTS. THAT IS THE CASE WITH ROAD DEBRIS. IF LOADS WERE PROPERLY SECURED THEN THINGS WOULDN'T FALL OFF AND IF DRIVERS WERE ADEQUATELY PAYING ATTENTION AND FOLLOWING THE DISTANCE THEY SHOULD BE AND KNEW THE PROPER DEFENSIVE DRIVING TECHNIQUES TO MANAGE IT THE CRASH COULDN'T OCCUR.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS AND ALWAYS AS YOU MENTIONED IF YOU LOAD THE STUFF UP PROPERLY YOU WILL NOT HAVE A PROBLEM BUT IT A CLASS A MISDEMEANOR FOR UNSECURE LOADS, CORRECT?

STEPHANIE MOE: YOU CAN BE FINED ANYWHERE FROM $250 TO $1000.

TED SIMONS: THIS REPORT MAKES COMMON SENSE ROAD DEBRIS ISN'T GOOD BUT THE INCREASE IS DISTURBING. WHAT DO YOU TAKE FROM THE REPORT AND WANT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THIS?

STEPHANIE MOE: YOU TOUCHED ON IT. THESE CRASHES ARE PREVENTABLE. BE RESPONSIBLE IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRANSPORT SOMETHING. TRY NOT TO OVERLOAD YOUR VEHICLE. IT MAY NOT FIT IN OUR PICKUP TRUCK. YOU MAY NEED TO RENT A VEHICLE IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO IT DAFELY AND PROPERLY. FASTEN ITEMS DOWN AND SECURE ITEMS TO THE TRUCK AND DRIVERS REMAIN ALERT, KEEP THE SAFE DISTANCE, SCAN THE ROAD AHEAD OF YOU. IF IT IS UNAVOIDABLE TRY SLOW DOWN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION HERE, WAS ARIZONA-- WAS THIS STATE BY STATE OR NATIONWIDE?

STEPHANIE MOE: NATIONWIDE.

TED SIMONS: OK SO WE DON'T KNOW IF IS BETTER OR WORSE IN CERTAIN AREAS.

STEPHANIE MOE: RIGHT, THAT WASN'T DETERMINED IN OUR STUDY.

TED SIMONS: THAT IS GOOD INFORMATION TO HAVE. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. WE APPRECIATE IT.

STEPHANIE MOE: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Stephanie Moe: AAA Arizona

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