UDOT says debris on Utah roads contributes to more than 700 crashes each year

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 23:57:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Roadway debris. We've all seen it, but just how much of it is out there?

"This year alone we've responded to over 11,000 calls of debris on the roadway," said Lt. Todd Royce of the Utah Highway Patrol.

The Utah Department of Transportation says that debris also leads to more than 700 accidents each year.

"We issue a lot of citations for unsecure loads," Royce said.

But statistics and tickets don't always help people realize the dangers of debris, as UDOT Spokesman John Gleason points out.

"Our folks collected enough items within a week's time to really kind of assemble a full living room set," Gleason said. "It's mind-boggling the things that you'll find out on the road that shouldn't be there."

And it's more than just tire shreds and car parts.

“You have a chair, a baby's bassinet, a TV, a microwave, just all sorts of things, the last things in the world you would expect to find on the road--even a refrigerator,” Gleason said as he showed off the many items in the trailer.

Its more than just hitting the items. Many accidents also happen because people are simply trying to swerve out of the way. UHP says to give yourself extra room in between you and the car in front of you, and try to avoid swerving, especially if the debris is small.

"So if you're securing a load in the back of a pickup truck or on a trailer, if you think it's secure, it's probably not secure," Royce said. "You have to know that its secure, and so make sure you've got plenty of straps."

Gleason said reducing dangerous debris is a shared responsibility.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and if you don't tie down your cargo that can be a hefty fine for you, but it can also cost someone else their life, so it really is all of our responsibility," he said. "It takes 5 minutes, and it could mean the difference between life or death."