SALT LAKE COUNTY (News4Utah) – Transportation officials are issuing a warning to drivers to secure your load for safer roads.
Utah Highway Patrol said a treadmill, a ladder, and bales of hay are examples of items that have caused serious crashes on Utah roads.
“Our maintenance folks have retrieved enough to assemble a living room within a week or two’s time,” said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation.
Lt. Todd Royce with UHP said they received 26,477 calls of road debris in 2017. So far this year, they’ve received 10,466 calls.
“It’s the last thing in the world that you expect to run into as a driver so you’re not always watching out for it. You don’t always have a lot of time to react and that’s why it’s so dangerous,” said Gleason.
Laura Swanson, a Bluffdale resident, is thankful to be alive after a crash on I-15 several years ago.
“I was driving behind a car that was behind a truck,” said Swanson. “Debris fell from the truck and the car in front of me swerved to dodge it. So not only did I have to swerve to avoid the car, I also had to swerve to avoid the debris.”
Swanson said her car spun across multiple lanes, hit a barrier, and landed on the opposite side of the freeway.
“My car was totaled. I should have died,” said Swanson. “Now I have major fear of it. Major fear. So anytime I see a truck that has debris in it, I’m always steering away from them.”
He said Utah averages 700 debris-related crashes each year. Last year, 24 of those crashes resulted in serious injuries, two were fatalities, and 11 involved motorcycles.
On May 12th, Craig Schmidt lost his life on Bangerter Highway after hitting a pallet on the road on his motorcycle. Gleason said Schmidt’s crash is the first debris-related crash this year.
“Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable when driving out on the freeway. They don’t have a lot of protection if they hit an object in the road,” said Gleason.
To drive the point home, UHP officials said at 55 mph, an object weighing 20 pounds falling from a vehicle can strike with an impact of half a ton.
UHP provided the following tips to secure your load:
- Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
- Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
- Not overload the vehicle
- Always double-check to make sure a load is secure
- Maintain your vehicle so pieces of it don’t come off on the road, and properly securing objects you’re hauling, are keys to preventing these types of accidents.