Published On: Sat, Aug 26th, 2017

Debris on Roadways to Blame for Thousands of Crashes in Ohio

Ohio’s Department of Transportation released data from 18,700 crashes between 2012 and 2016. The data, from state roadways, found that debris set in motion many of the accidents, resulting in 569 serious injuries and 102 deaths.

Unsecured loads were responsible for an average of 20 deaths per year and nearly 100 serious injuries.

photo David Peña via pixabay

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Transportation notes that while the number of accidents blamed on debris are relatively small, just 1% of all crashes, they are the easiest to prevent. Civilians are often to blame for the accidents, hauling trash, scrap and even furniture.

Motorists need to give themselves space to avoid accidents by staying far enough behind vehicles, says Sgt. John Chesser.

Road debris led to three reported deaths in Clark County and four deaths in both Butler and Montgomery counties. Nineteen people died in 2016 due to debris in the roadway or flying out of vehicles. Improper hauling of goods was to blame for the accidents. Tarping flatbeds or securing items could have saved these people’s lives.

Ohio law makes it illegal to drive with an unsecured load on state highways. Many cities and routes are included as parts of state highways. Ohio’s fines for unsecured loads are among the lowest in the nation, with no jail time and fines that range from $120 – $160 on average.

The offense is a misdemeanor.

The “Tarp Law” mandates trucks and pick-ups have a tarp that will protect motorists from debris.

Matt Bruning from the Ohio Department of Transportation states, “All of these things flying out of vehicles and that becomes a real hazard to motorists driving down the roadways at 70 miles per hour.”

AAA states that more than 33% of drivers involved in debris accidents often swerve to avoid hitting debris. Items falling on vehicles resulted in the remaining 66% of deaths.

Ohio spends $4 million annually to clean debris and trash from roadways. The Department of Transportation reports that they collected 440,000 bags of trash last year alone. Roadway debris that’s been picked up by motorists include tires, sorted trash, aluminum siding, grills and chicken wire, among other bulky items.

The department did not release information on the punishment faced by drivers who were responsible for flying debris.

The state recently enforced a new law for farmers that allows vehicles to be driven on roadways other than freeways when going from one field to another. The agricultural utility vehicles are required to have a bed to transport goods, but there’s no mention of a required tarp.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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