A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last year revealed that 400 people are killed every year in vehicle accidents caused by road debris that falls from unsecured loads being carried by non-commercial vehicles. Another 10,000 people were injured in road debris accidents.
GAO compiled the report based on data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however the agency points out in its report that the number of fatalities may actually be higher because of issues with road debris accident reporting. In the past, the NHTSA did not categorize whether or not the road debris in vehicle accidents was caused by human error or whether or not it was cause by nature (i.e. a tree that has fallen).
Another issue in reporting is the differences in state laws and how it applies to road debris that comes from non-commercial vehicles.
The GAO report cited examples of injuries that victims sustained from road debris accidents:
- In Washington, a female driver was critically injured when an entertainment center being transported on a trailer by the vehicle driving in front of the woman fell off the trailer.
- In West Virginia, a non-commercial trailer lost some of its unsecured load and crashed into the windshield of the car driving behind it, killing the female driver.
- A pedestrian was struck by a mattress and metal frame that fell off a non-commercial truck. The victim suffered a fractured skull and spinal injuries
Every state in the country has laws regarding unsecured loads being transported by non-commercial and commercial vehicles. Texas Transportation Code – Chapter 725 Transportation of Loose Materials is the statute in this state.
According to the statute, a vehicle transporting debris cannot have any type of hole or crack where debris can fall from. The vehicle must also have panels on both sides as enclosures. There must also be a panel by the vehicle cab and either a rear panel or tailgate. The tailgate must be kept closed. The load must either be completely enclosed or covered.
Violation of this statute is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $500.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone negligently transporting an unsecured load, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.