Road debris

So I’m driving down the Long Island Expressway Friday night with my future brother-in-law. I’m in the left lane, keeping up with traffic, when suddenly the car in front of me kicks something up.

'Twas a piece of somebody’s BUMPER. I didn’t even have enough time to go “oh, shit!” before this big piece of plastic smacked into my car’s front end and tucked under the car.

Upon arriving home, I survey the damage: One license plate hanging by a thread. A few minor scratches on the front nose piece (they’ll probably polish out). A couple deep gouges in the front air dam (not a big deal).

So the damage was minor, but it easily could have been worse. My car is very low to the ground and the plastic bumper piece could have snagged on something and caught fire. I’ve seen this happen with orange road cones and such - they drag under cars, the friction starts a fire and the next thing you know, there’s molten plastic burning under your car.

So I started paying attention to the volume of road debris on the L.I.E. On the strip of road I observed, there was some sort of hazardous piece of debris lying in the road every few thousand feet or so. A piece of peeled-off truck tire tread here, a misplaced orange barrel there.

Not to mention the idiots who drive landscaping trucks and such around with open tailgates, without covering loads of dirt or woodchips with a tarp, with tools flying out the back, etc. A couple years ago, I dodged a tamper that fell off of some dude’s landscaping trailer. God knows hitting a tamper at 60+ MPH would seriously screw up your car. A few weeks back, some jerk was hauling a load of sand down the right lane of the expressway - no tarp, no nothing. As I was listening to the grains of sand doing an impromptu sandblast job on the front of my car, I looked for an opening so I can pull out and pass this asshole. After a minute or so, I find the opening and pass him. Does he get pulled over? No. I look in my rearview mirror and see him go right through a speed trap without so much as a raised eyebrow from the cops.

Okay. Accidents happen. I get it. But when accidents do happen, there’s no excuse for leaving pieces of cars and other random detritus all over the place. The state road crews should be out and about, clearing this stuff off the road. And a hefty “fuck you” to people who, through their own negligence, litter the roads with stuff that can cause serious accidents or other damage to vehicles. Close your fricking tailgate. It’ll take you 10 seconds. Go buy a tarp and some bungee cords at Wal-Mart. It’ll only cost you 10 bucks or so.

Sad story here: In my finance days, I was working closely with my prefered dealer getting a young man financed for a new motorcycle. It was a tough case, as this guy had some negitive credit history, but he was trying to turn things around. He just graduated from the police acadamy and appeared to have a bright future ahead of him. Well, I pulled a few strings and got this guy his loan, and he rode off on a new bike.

About 2 weeks later, I flew into this dealers town. The front page story was about the tragic death of the newest local patrol officer, killed while riding his motorcycle. Seems a car traveling ahead of him and his friend hit some road debris (a huge hunk of truck tire tread, specifically) and threw it up into the air. It hit this guy in the chest and either knocked him off or caused him to crash, killing him. I walked into the dealer and in the shop area was his crumpled motorcycle (or as I always thought about, my crumpled motorcycle, since I was the buyer on the deal) and it really bummed me out. I had never actually met the guy, but I felt I knew him since I had to do extensive background/employment investigation to get his loan pushed thru. That was the single most depressing event of that job.

So, yeah. Watch that shit on the road, and if it looks dangerous, do something about it if possible. I have stopped to drag shit off the road when it was safe to do so. Maybe saved someones life, who knows?


My pet suffers from dyslexia and a Christ complex.

Road debris is very scary. I was in California, west bound on US 60, and a truck wheel, (rim and tire) that had come off of an east bound truck bounced over the center barricade, and was headed directly for me. There was absolutely nothing that I could do except wait for the collision. Fortunately it bounced completely over my compact rent-a-car. It did hit the car behind me, though. Dead center of the windshield, right at the roof line, and smashed it badly. There was nowhere for me to stop, so I don’t know if the driver was injured or not. But it made me pucker big time.

As I went through downtown Boston, I saw everything. Tire parts, flattened cardboard boxes, you name it. The worst was a muffler. A friggin muffler right smack dab in the middle of the road.

That whole freeway system is FUBAR. I mean that quite literally. FUBA($2 billion)R.

When I was last on I-440 in June I ran over a plastic plant pot that hadn’t been picked up after the landscaping drones planted juniper in the median. If you’ve ever been on 440 you know it’s worth your life to change lanes, especially when you’re dragging a plastic pot under your car. Fortunately there was a stick on the side of the road so I could knock it out from under my front end.

I didn’t know it could catch fire though. Eeeeeeeeeee.

What I want to know is why are these blown-out tires left lying on the side of the road like limp rubber boas? Are they the new mile markers? “No, honey, the 100-mile tire marker has more of a spiral shape. The flat one is the 90-mile marker.”

I don’t have any cites for this, but I understand that about a year ago, film director Alan J. Pakula was killed on the Long Island Expressway due to a heavy object crashing through the windshield. At least, I think it was the Long Island Expressway. Anyways, please be careful out there.

Yes! That’s who it was (couldn’t remember the name). I want to think that Pakula was killed by a tire smashing through his windshield.

I ran over an open can of white paint that had juuuust fallen out of the paint truck ahead of me. Made an attractive white smear in the road (and under my car). But we both pulled over and he was nice enough to wipe off my car. And there wasn’t a whole lot of danger because this was in a 35 mph zone. The whole thing was quite funny.

When you folks out there with cell phones see a vehicle with an obvious hazard (stuff falling out back, stuff not tied down, etc.) I hope you’ll give the police or relevant authorities a call. Tips can certainly help the police track these folks down a lot faster.

Here’s a related story: On the way home from work once, I got to an intersection and stopped for a red light. A pickup truck was careening down one of the main drags in down with a stand-up piano in back. It looked like it was being “held” by a piece of tape strung across the bed, up to the top of the piano, then down again. The guy put on his left turn signal and was still going way too fast. I winced, knowing what was going to happen. He dumped the piano all over the intersection. I called: “Hi, police? I’m at 30th and Grand, and this guy just had a piano fall out of his truck and there are piano keys and pieces of wood everywhere…”

I saw what I believe was an empty trash barrel and a cardboard box of some sort fall out of the back of a delivery truck in the middle of downtown Boston. Being on a bike, I pulled up next to the truck and shouted to the driver through the open passenger side window. I don’t think he paid any attention.

And I have seen the occasional large piece of furniture or other object of similar size in the middle of the highway. Those are just scary.

Originally posted by fluiddruid

I guess it was a grand piano after that…:smiley:

I was a passenger in a car on I-70 in the right lane, approaching the bridge over the Mon river, with a slower truck in the left lane. With no shoulder on the right and the truck holding steady on the left, we saw a truck tire right in the middle of our lane, too close to avoid. My buddy slowed down and said “hold on” as we passed over the tire- which was just a blowout, it collapsed as we passed over and did no damage to the car.

Oh that poor piano…don’t know what it says about me, but I would have had to throw up if I saw that.

If it makes you feel any better, it was a really crappy-looking piano. :wink:

About 16 years ago, my parents and I were headed home after spending Christmas at the home of one of my sisters. Two-day drive between DeKalb, IL and the New Orleans 'burbs. We lost one of Mom’s suitcases somewhere in southern Illinois, which had been secured with a bungee cord in the luggage rack with all the others but this one somehow worked itself loose. We circled back around the highway to see if we could spot the rogue luggage but to no avail. I did spot a car in the median, which I reported to Dad. I was shocked that he didn’t stop to see if the driver had been run off the road by a flying suitcase.

I also tried to convince him to put a tarp over the suitcases before we left DeKalb but he refused. He said that there wasn’t any rain in the forcast, so why bother?

I hate that feeling you get in the fraction of a second right before you hit a piece of road debris. Hitting the car bumper last week made my heart beat a bit fast.

A few weeks ago, I was coming back to NYC from Long Island via the 59th Street Bridge. As I turned off the expressway, the dude in front of me hit a monster pothole and his hubcap came flying off. I figured the thing would just roll on its edge toward the road shoulder, but for some reason it had some funny English on it. It bounced into my direction of travel and just kinda bounced around directly in front of me for a few seconds. I felt like the baseball player on the receiving end of a Phil Neikro knuckleball - I wasn’t sure whether or not the hubcap was going to end up coming toward me or bouncing harmlessly out of the way.

Turns out the thing hit a pebble in the road and took a sharp right turn into the other lane of traffic, so I was okay. I really can’t be upset about it - after all, accidents do happen. I get more upset when stuff from accidents or other road debris ends up being left on the highway to do more damage to other people’s cars.

The only other time I’ve actually hit a foreign object in the road was when I hit a box turtle on my way to work several years ago, but that’s another story. Still brings tears to my eyes. (sniff)

The Pakula debris wasn’t a tire - it was something that fell off a truck or was lying in the roadway - a pipe or the like.
I once got a flat tire running over a whiskey bottle.

[sub] damn bum must’ve had it under his coat. ::rimshot:: [/sub]

Shortly after I had bought my shiny new 2002 VW Passat, I was driving down I-95 near DC. Traffic was pretty dense that day, but moving along nicely. I was in the left lane and probably going around 60 mph when suddenly I saw a hunk of wood in the air in front of me. I never saw where it came from, almost like it had just materialized right there. It appeared to be a foot long section of a 2x4, but I didn’t really get a very good look. It was flying very quickly right at me, so I had only a fraction of a second to duck down and get a good grip on the wheel before it slammed into my windshield right below where the rear view mirror is attached.

Amazingly, it did absolutely no damage. I pulled over when I got the chance to survey the car. I’d already seen that the windshield was fine, except for a little smudge (which later come off with Windex, maybe some residue that was adhered to the wood). After it hit the front glass, it must have just bounced right over the rest of the car. I was expecting to find nasty scrapes on the roof (it’s a wagon, so there’s a lot of roof!), but there was nothing.

At first I was just really happy that I didn’t get hurt and that I kept control of the car so no-one else got hurt. Then later on, relief set in that my new car wasn’t damaged as well. I don’t know how I got so lucky! I suppose automotive glass is pretty tough, but that thing sounded like a bomb when it hit. I shudder to think what would’ve happened had it been a piece of metal debris.

I came the closest I ever have to death on the road due to road debris. I was sitting in the back seat of a friend’s small car (can’t remember what it was, but it was little), and we were driving down the highway to an even of some sort. Suddenly, up ahead we see a shape in the road, big and square. The driver swerves out of the way, and we narrowly miss a refridgerator-sized BLOCK OF COMPRESSED CARDBOARD AND PAPER, apparently having fallen off of a recycling truck. Slamming into that thing head on would have been like going into a brick wall at 60 miles an hour. Needless to say, I felt very, very lucky after it was over.