Road debris is something that every driver in our great nation has to contend with. From the dangerous road "gators" created big-rig tires blow to the coolers and mattresses that fall out of overloaded trucks to the every-day trash that sometimes flies out open car windows, we dodge them all.
For the most part, a driver's best tactic is to quickly change lanes or duck onto the shoulder in order to avoid hitting anything more menacing than a paper bag.
However, for business fleet drivers who are out on the road five times or more than your average commuter, it is very important to understand not only the standard way of dealing with road debris, but how to handle it as a professional. Including instances where your fleet vehicles become the source of additional road debris.
How Fleet Drivers Should Respond to Road Debris
The first responsibility of a driver who encounters road debris is to ensure your own safety along with any other passengers in the vehicle. This means choosing the course of action that is least likely to result in a collision with another vehicle or your vehicle taking damage from the debris.
Change Lanes If You Can
The ideal solution is to simply change lanes or half-change in a calm and smoothly executed dodge. If there is plenty of space in an adjacent lane, simply put on your blinker and move over. If there is a car behind you, it's courteous to flash your brake lights twice to let them know you're dodging on purpose and give them a few extra seconds to follow suit.
Slow Down If You Can't Change Lanes
However, if there is only one lane, no shoulder, or you are boxed in, do not change lanes. Also, beware of other vehicles coming up in the other lane at a faster speed. In these situations, you'll need to use your best judgment and simply try to minimize damage to the vehicle.
Usually, your best bet is to slow down significantly (again, flash your brakes as a warning). If possible, adjust your lane position to keep your tires off of the debris. This will give you the best chance of staying in control of the vehicle, even if your undercarriage is badly scraped or there is an impact with the front of the car.
How Fleet Drivers Should Deal with Created Road Debris
Most people who create road debris never intended to do so. While there is the occasional litterer, you just can't plan for things like a blown tire leaving scraps over the highway or a bungee coming loose and releasing furniture on-the-go.
However, for fleet managers and drivers, it is very important to understand that vehicles that create debris can be held legally liable for damages if their debris is the cause of an accident later in the day.
Responsibility and Legal Safety
In order to avoid the risk of a lawsuit, and to be a courteous fellow-driver, the answer is to call your local highway patrol to report it.
911 dispatch will happily direct you to the correct line in any state (you're preventing emergencies, after all) and *47 (HP for Highway Patrol) works in most states including our home state of North Carolina. This will give you the chance to provide a mile-marker or nearby exit sign to the clean-up crews who deal with this sort of hazard all year long.
Whether your fleet vehicle blows tire-bits over the lanes or loses a poorly secured toolbox onto the road, taking the proper precautions can protect the drivers, fleet, and company from potential injury lawsuits.
Be a Good Citizen, Report All Dangerous Road Debris
Of course, being responsible about road debris doesn't have to stop with just what fleet drivers accidentally create. We've all dodged a bad gator, or something more bizarre like a mattress or lost chair, and thought "Someone should really clean that up!"
If there is a passenger in the vehicle who can man the phone, your teams can make sure this actually happens in an act of good citizenship that few people take on. In fact, you might even get *47 on voice-activated speed-dial and become a regular reporter. Trust us, the clean-up teams are happy to prevent accidents with our help.
For more useful and considerate tips for fleet managers, drivers, and teams, contact us today!