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Dangerous amounts of road debris found on Utah roadways

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jun 07, 2021

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — A dangerously large amount of debris is being found on Utah roadways.

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Road debris is up nearly 20 percent since 2018, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Jan Krystkowiak, the wife of former Utah Utes head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, had a close call with some road debris a few months ago.

“It shot out like a bullet and hit the side of the car,” she said.

As Krystkowiak drove her daughters to volleyball practice in February, she said a vehicle ahead of her kicked up a piece of metal road debris on I-215.

“I think the only thing that saved me from getting hit right between the eyes was the rear view mirror. It hit that first and then broke through the window,” said Krystkowiak.

Road debris reports are one of the most common calls into Utah Highway Patrol, and they’re on the rise.

READ: Believe it or not? Utah has some of the best drivers in US

Troopers responded to more than 31,100 calls in 2020 -- that’s up from 26,000 in 2018.

“I wish I knew exactly why. It’s a growing problem from year to year,” said UHP Lt. Nick Street.

On average, troopers respond to 76 road debris calls per day, according to Lt. Street. He’s seen couches, refrigerators, and ladders.

“There have been instances where I’ve been called to debris that I needed more than one person or heavy equipment to try to get off the roadway,” said Lt. Street.

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Lt. Street urges drivers to double check their loads and the straps tying them down. For everyone else, don’t tailgate and scan the 12 to 15 seconds of road ahead of you.

“Probably the next week, on the way, there was a mattress in the road. A huge mattress right on the highway. Cars were going around it. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ That’s so scary because that could kill somebody,” said Krystkowiak.

Road debris is considered an emergency and should be called into 911.