I was fascinated with 20/20 this past Friday, March 15th. The show content focused on vehicles, exposing Car Fax, providing information regarding to GPS, to (what I was most fixated on) a story regarding road debris. We usually think of semis and dump trucks when we think of road debris, but the biggest offenders are . . . regular people going about their daily business. Vehicle parts (like blown tires, mufflers, bumpers, etc.) and cargo (like mattresses, lumber, bikes, etc.) accidentally fall off of cars and trucks every single day.
20/20 told the story of a resident of North Carolina who was injured by road debris. Wendy Cobb’s morning commute was usually an uneventful 12 minute ride on a two-lane highway near her home in North Carolina. Except one morning in April 2011, when Cobb captured one of the scariest split seconds of driving ever recorded. It began when she found herself driving behind two trucks on the highway.œThe two trucks were staying right beside of each other. They wouldn’t let any of the other cars pass, Cobb told œ20/20³ co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas. Frustrated, Cobb pulled out her iPhone and began filming the two trucks to capture their bad behavior. œI really wanted the logo on the side of the one truck. I wanted to know what company that it was, she said.As they neared a stoplight, Cobb said, the truck in front of her drove over a long plank lying in the road. The truck’s tires rocketed the plank into the air and directly at Cobb’s windshield. œI remember having a conversation with myself. It seems like it was that split second, but I was telling myself this is not happening, that it’s not coming to my windshield, she said. In less than a second, far too little time to evade, the plank smashed through the windshield. It missed Cobb by inches.
œ[It] was just the most horrendous noise I have to this day ever heard, Cobb said. Luckily, there were no cars behind her, and Cobb was able to pull her car to a stop. Shaken, and without words to express what happened, she simply handed her iPhone to the police officer who soon arrived.œHe said, ˜You realize you almost filmed your own death,’ Cobb said.
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Death by road debris is more common than you might think. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road debris causes over 50,000 accidents, 10,000 injuries and 440 deaths per year. Much of the debris are items not properly secured by drivers of cars and trucks.
Of course, the best way to avoid debris in the road is to stop it from getting there in the first place.
Below is some helpful safety tips –
¢ Weight and gravity are not enough to keep loads in or on your vehicle.
¢ Use ropes, straps, and chains to secure items. Avoid bungee cords, twine, and small string.
¢ Ropes should be used with a type of anchor. Suggested knots include: Bowline, Truckers Hitch, and Double Fisherman’s Bend.
¢ Keep items below the top edge of the truck bed or trailer.
¢ Close all boxes, bags, and containers.
¢ Cover loose items with a tarp and secure it.
¢ Use cargo netting only for smaller items.
¢ After traveling a short distance stop and makes sure nothing has loosened.
If you’re behind a vehicle that’s loaded down, here are some helpful tips:
¢ Be alert and avoid distractions
¢ Keep your distance from suspicious items or activitiy on the road. This will give you the extra time needed to react should something happen. A few extra feet can mean the difference between life and death.