Blown tires, hubcaps, ladders, landscaping tools, and even large furniture are seen on our roads every day, particularly on freeways, where a poorly secured load can go airborne if the vehicle carrying it reaches a high speed. Not only can debris damage your vehicle, it can also cause a collision as vehicles swerve to avoid it. What can you do to help prevent contact?
Slow down. Exceeding the speed limit is not only against the law, it also reduces the time you have to react to unexpected situations while behind the wheel, such as having to avoid roadway debris in your travel lane. Wet or icy roads in winter can add extra danger, since your tires have less traction.
Watch all lanes, not just the one you’re driving in, in case you need to quickly change lanes to avoid debris ahead of you. Sometimes the safest choice is to veer onto the shoulder rather than dart into another driving lane. If other vehicles have you boxed in, your only choice is to hit the brakes.
Don’t tailgate. If the vehicle in front of you swerves to avoid hitting an object, you may not have enough time to follow suit if you’re driving too close. Be cautious when following vehicles that are carrying a load such as tools, equipment, or furniture; if not properly secured, these items could fly out of a truck bed and toward your vehicle.
Sometimes there is no way to avoid hitting debris. This is particularly true if the roads are wet, if you are driving a tall vehicle with high rollover capacity, or if you’re unsure of your ability to safely maneuver around the object. If you run over debris, you should have a trusted mechanic inspect the underside of your vehicle for damage.