Road Debris and Distraction, Double Danger

This week on “Good Morning America,” the AAA Foundation was asked to comment on the dangers of road debris as part of a story featuring a viral video of a 2x4 crashing through a car windshield. The video was captured by the car’s driver, Wendy Cobb, who said she was using her cell phone camera to film the two trucks driving erratically in front of her when both trucks hit the 2x4 lying in the road and caused it to come flying through her windshield! Fortunately no one was hurt, but our research shows that  vehicle-related road debris causes an estimated 25,000 similar crashes per year, resulting in approximately 80-90 fatalities. This video is an example of just how hazardous and frightening a collision with road debris can be. 

But, there are two important lessons to learn from this video as well that can minimize your risk for a similar collision.

1.       Be alert and avoid distractions. Using a cell phone while driving, to text, make calls, or to video another driver’s behavior, is distracting and makes it difficult to react quickly or to identify potentially dangerous situations …  like a 2x4 heading for your windshield. Accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and driving while distracted only increases your odds of being in one.
2.       Keep your distance from suspicious items or activity on the road. Despite Wendy’s good intention of closely following to record the two trucks driving recklessly, it would have been far safer to drop back to disengage from their behavior, or to stop and call the police to report the activity.

A matter of inches can mean the difference between life and death when encountering road debris. Unfortunately, not everyone will be as lucky as Wendy. So, learn from her close call to protect yourself and the ones you love.