Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Most drivers have seen the dangerous stuff that falls off of another vehicle and into a lane of traffic. Unfortunately, that amount of crap is growing and it’s killing drivers. In fact, crashes caused by road debris went up 40 percent in the past 15 years.

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In a study called “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011– 2014,” published this month by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, debris-related crashes were defined as:

...crashes in which a vehicle struck or was struck by an object that fell or became detached from another vehicle, struck a non-fixed object on the roadway, or crashed after swerving to avoid an object on the roadway.

Think mattresses, tires, rocking chairs, trailers or flat-screen TVs. Things that can be carried in or by a vehicle and fall off of a vehicle. Collisions that involved animals, falling trees, debris from a previous crash, debris from construction work zones or debris outside of the travel lane were not counted as debris-related crashes.

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The study found between 2011 and 2014, there were over 200,000 crashes, over 39,000 injured, and over 500 dead from debris-related crashes. Thirty-seven percent of those deaths happened when a driver tried to avoid something on the roadway.

Most of these crashes happened between 10 a.m. and 3:59 p.m. on interstate highways, or rather, when and where most people drive fast and transport things, and usually when there were no adverse conditions.

So the next time you’re moving or transporting something that needs to be tied to your car, tie it down well. Too many people are too flippant about securing their stuff, and it’s putting everyone else at risk.

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This is also a good time to repeat that it is not smart to tailgate on the highway. If you’re traveling at highway speeds, you need that extra space and reaction time to make sure nothing dangerous happens to you, your car or your passengers.

Hat tip to The Truth About Cars