If you’ve driven on California roads and highways for any substantial amount of time, no doubt you’ve seen some type of large debris placed in or alongside lanes of travel. A new report shows that this refuse can pose a severe hazard to travelers.
The report relates the tragic case of a California Highway Patrol officer who in 2006 was killed when he attempted to get out of the way of a stove that had come off the back of a truck. CHP officers and Caltrans crews alike can also be endangered when they go about the task of moving items out of the road. As one CHP officer notes, all it takes is one inattentive driver to put that person’s life on the line.
The problem is more out of hand than many people might realize. According to a Caltrans representative, Los Angeles County alone sees millions of pounds of products having to be removed from roads. Across the state, it all adds up to $52 million spent on an annual basis to ensure that roads are clear.
Debris can range from the relatively small to the quite large. Furniture is not uncommon, nor are various appliances like stoves and microwaves. The CHP advises that drivers pay attention to their environment and change lanes if possible to do so safely when confronted by debris. 911 should be called if a large item is struck or if a driver feels the debris could endanger other motorists. The call should be made when pulled over.