Simple acts of littering can have fatal consequences. Traffic accidents caused by road debris kill hundreds of victims every year. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 500 victims were killed in accidents caused by road debris across the United States between 2011 and 2014. Littering and improperly secured cargo have very real consequences for Providence injury victims whose lives can be altered as a result of a car accident. Consult a Providence car accident attorney after any type of traffic collision in order to better understand and protect your legal rights.
Rhode Island Drivers Have a Legal Obligation to Prevent Littering - Whether Intentional or Not
Section 31-25-10 of the Rhode Island General Laws prohibits drivers from operating any vehicle on any highway with any load, unless the load and any covering on it is securely fastened so as to prevent it from becoming loose, detached, or in any manner a hazard to other users of the highway. This means that even unintentional littering can subject a driver to fines and penalties. Unintentional littering can be even more dangerous than intentional littering. This is because unintentional littering often involves large items which have not been properly secured. Christmas trees, household appliances, mattresses and truck tires are common types of road debris which can be highly dangerous due to their size and weight.
Other Causes of Road Debris
Of course, not all road debris is caused by drivers. In Chicago, debris fell from a construction site onto a busy expressway. Fox 32 Chicago reports that outbound lanes were closed for more than an hour, and the evening rush hour traffic would likely be affected by the continued backup. Both the debris and heavy traffic put drivers at a higher risk of accidents in the area.
The weather can also cause road debris. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed part of the Historic Columbia River Highway after strong winds blew branches and other debris onto the roadway. KATU 2 reports that drivers were warned to proceed with caution once the road was reopened. In other cases, pedestrians are put at risk while trying to clear natural debris. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, a man was attempting to clear branches that had been blown into the road by heavy winds when he was struck by a vehicle. WWMT reports that the driver did not stop, and police were searching for the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run accident.
Accidents can also cause large commercial trucks to lose loads that are otherwise secure and stable. Such an incident resulted in a bizarre situation outside of Felton, Delaware. According to Delaware Online, a tractor-trailer carrying a load of chickens became involved in an accident that disrupted electricity service to local residents and caused traffic congestion. The chickens were lost in the accident.
When a car accident is caused by debris in the roadway, it can be difficult to identify the parties who are legally responsible for causing the car accident. A Providence car accident attorney can help victims identify those parties that are accountable for car accidents which occur as a result of road debris.