Thousands of Chicago residents are getting into their cars this morning after a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They will take their kids to school, head to work, or run errands as part of their normal routine and will feel like their ability to handle their vehicles is well within their control.
Yet in some situations, it may not be up to an individual driver to stay in control and to guarantee the safety of those in her vehicle. This is often the case when road debris is present on an Illinois expressway, interstate, or local road and far too often, this road debris is causing car accidents.
Road debris is a type of road hazard that appears on or near a road’s surface. It can take the form of anything that should not normally be on the roadway and often includes things like products that have fallen off other vehicles, spilled liquids, the remnants of an earlier collision, or garbage that has been intentionally or unintentionally discarded on the road. In Chicago, changing weather patterns can also deposit road debris as gusting winds or storms may bring foreign objects onto a roadway.
It is an unfortunate reality that in Illinois, road debris is so common that many people do not think twice about it. An empty box, a bag of garbage, or the remains of a fast food beverage might be part of your normal commute into work and may seem as commonplace as other cars driving near you. But debris should be noticed and should be considered as you drive as it can pose a very real threat to your personal safety.
Debris can either remain stationary or can become airborne, an event often called road spray or tire spray. When debris is in your path, you may be forced to strike it if other vehicles near you prevent you from changing lanes or swerving safely. While it is very unlikely than an empty plastic bag with pose any threat to you, other debris can be deadly if it causes a collision.
Slicks and spills on the road can cause a driver to lose control of her vehicle, especially when these areas pop up without warning. A car that has a sudden malfunction may deposit oil or other fluids on a roadway or a semi-truck hauling product may leak and cause a dangerous condition. If you see a foreign liquid on a road’s surface, your best option is to slow down and avoid the condition when possible. If you cannot avoid the liquid, proceed with great caution and be prepared to brake if you slip. Note that you should continue to steer your vehicle in the direction you want to go if you begin to slide and if you are forced to leave your lane of traffic, you should try to steer towards an area clear of other vehicles, like the shoulder of the road.
Construction debris is a common source of road hazards and one that is more likely than many others to cause a car accident. Construction products may include nails and screws, scrap wood or steel, loose gravel, equipment pieces, barrels and markers, signs, or vehicles, to name some. Construction debris is most common near a construction site but it is possible for the debris to be moved some distance by other vehicles, making it possible for these hazards to be located far from an active scene of work. Construction remnants may cause a sudden loss of air pressure to a tire which can lead to a tire blowout car accident or may serve as blunt force trauma to a car which can shatter windows, impale occupants of a vehicle, or simply cause a car to jerk or move beyond the control of a driver.
Trash is considered to be one of the most common forms of road debris as people continue to litter or to improperly secure trash within their vehicles. While trash on a roadway is never desirable, it is less likely to cause an accident in many instances than other types of debris. However, large trash or household items that are inherently dangerous still make up a number of collisions every year and can cause injuries to those involved.
Prior Blog Entry:
New Concerns over Links between Pain Medication, Birth Defects, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 27, 2016.