Who’s responsible for a car accident caused by road debris or unsecured cargo?
In 2013, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk was injured when a ladder lying on I-30 was kicked up by a passing tractor-trailer and slammed into the man’s windshield. While some are calling the Interstate 30 Texas car accident a “freak occurrence,” the truth is that unsecured loads are responsible for a surprising number of car accident in Dallas.
In fact, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 418 motor vehicle accidents caused by unsecured loads throughout the state in 2014. Another 89 accidents in 2014 were caused by defective trailer hitches. Nationwide, there were reportedly 440 fatal car accidents caused by road debris in 2010.
Texas, like all other states, has laws against unsecured and improperly secured loads, but many safety advocates do not believe that the laws are tough enough. Drivers who are pulled over for having an improperly secured load will receive a citation, but when an accident occurs, it is often very difficult to find the vehicle who lost the load and is responsible for the accident. In the car accident cited above, for example, Texas police do not know who dropped a ladder into the road and, therefore, who was responsible for the accident in the first place.
Unsecured loads can involve a number of different circumstances. A load of gravel or rocks that is not properly covered with a tarp can fling debris into the windshield of the vehicle traveling behind it. An old car with loose parts, such as a bumper, can also unknowingly create road debris. An improperly secured trailer can come loose, causing a major accident. An 18-wheeler truck with a load that is not properly tied down can cause major problems if the vehicle has to brake suddenly – the load can even slide forward into the cab of the truck, killing the driver.