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Loose cargo and car accidents

People driving behind a pickup or trailer loaded down with furniture or other random cargo on a Texas highway have every reason to feel uncomfortable. ABC News reports on a study by the nonprofit organization, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, that found over 200,000 road debris crashes occurred between 2011 and 2014. Two-thirds of the objects that caused the accidents came from moving vehicles.

Even though Texas law defines the requirements for transporting loose materials, many people do not take the time to ensure safety.

Understanding the law

Anything a vehicle carries that could be sent tumbling onto the road is loose material, including:

  • Trash, garbage or other discarded items
  • Furniture or household materials
  • Equipment
  • Wood chips
  • Gravel, dirt or sand

A driver must prevent cargo from escaping by enclosing it on the vehicle and covering it securely. Violating this law is a misdemeanor, and a person may have to pay a fine that ranges from $25 to $500. Anyone who sees an unsecured load or an object in the road should alert the authorities immediately.

Dealing with the danger

Long following distances do not always eliminate the risk from a flying rock, trash can or mattress. A driver does have more time to react, though, and that reduces the chances of losing control of the vehicle in an abrupt, evasive maneuver. Because of the dangers of overcorrecting, smashing into another vehicle or leaving the roadway, experts suggest that in some cases, it may be safer to hit the object in the road.

If someone manages to capture a picture of the license plate, or if there is a dash cam that records the incident, a victim may be able to hold the other driver liable for the damages. An attorney can help to identify and gather evidence for insurance claims, and to go to court if litigation is necessary to achieve maximum compensation.

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