How 18-Wheeler Generated Road Debris Causes Accidents



Road debris has very serious negative impacts on highway safety. According to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety an estimated 25,000 accidents occur each year as a direct result of road debris. Much of that road debris is generated by 18-wheelers. In addition to the routine terror and danger that road debris causes, it is often particularly horrifying for that road debris to come from 18-wheelers because it is often very large and appears very suddenly.


Blown Tires – As the name implies, 18-wheelers typically have 18-wheels, and even the smaller big rig trucks have more wheels than a passenger vehicle. They also drive long miles and unfortunately many of the tires don’t get the maintenance and inspection that they should, which makes 18-wheelers prone to tire blowouts. The danger is amplified because the 18-wheeler’s tires are so large, making blown tire road debris very substantial and dangerous.

Vehicle Parts – As alarming as it sounds sometimes entire parts of 18-wheelers break off. We had a case recently that involved an accident after an entire wheel detached from a big rig. Another incident in the news last summer involved a Plano woman who died after an 18-wheeler’s metal brake drum came loose and hit her car. Shockingly, the 18-wheeler didn’t stop, and investigators suspect the driver may not even have realized the accident happened.

Lost Cargo – One of the biggest risks involving big rigs is that some of the cargo will come loose and fall into traffic. 18-wheelers carry an assortment of different types of cargo, from massive pipes, lumber, heavy equipment and machinery on flatbeds, chemicals, fuel, hazardous materials, and much more. If this cargo becomes loose it can easily injure or kill motorists and lead to extremely severe wrecks.

Mud and Gravel – It might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but mud and gravel flying off of an 18-wheeler’s tires that is not properly using mud flaps can cause serious damage and lead to accidents. Often the mud or gravel will land directly on the windshield of the vehicle following behind them. The sudden reduced visibility, as well as the distraction and fear that large chunks of mud and gravel can cause, can make drivers swerve or slam on their breaks, leading to accidents.

Wear and Tear – Wear and tear to roads caused by 18-wheelers may be more subtle, but it is no less pernicious. A study by the GAO revealed that one 18-wheeler can create as much wear and tear on the road as 9,600 passenger cars. The potholes, cracks, and broken asphalt this results in are not only expensive to taxpayers, but also dangerous for drivers.

Accident Damage – Unfortunately, accidents themselves generate road debris. This can again include tires and pieces broken off from the vehicles, but may also include broken concrete barriers, signs, utility poles, and anything else involved in the accident which may end up on the road. Thus, the general increase in accidents from 18-wheelers in turn affects the amount of road debris.


Not all debris dangers are associated with the general public encountering 18-wheeler generated debris. Other dangerous scenarios can occur when the 18-wheelers themselves encounter road debris, regardless of its source. 18-wheelers have a reduced capacity to brake and cannot easily take evasive measures, often resulting in them swerving into another motorist’s lane. Debris can even make 18-wheelers careen out of control and can create deadly multi-car pileups.


Staying safe from road debris is challenging and unfortunately not always possible, despite best intentions and safe driving practices. Following safe driving practices, staying alert, and driving defensively can help reduce the risk of an accident due to road debris. Following speed limits and maintaining a safe driving distance from other cars will make it much easier to react without incident to debris. Maintaining your own vehicle, practicing good defensive driving, and remaining calm will also help prevent debris-related accidents.

Sometimes safe driving is not enough. By their nature, accidents happen suddenly and you may have little to no warning that a piece of 18-wheeler generated debris is about to hit your car. If you or your loved ones have been involved in an accident due to 18-wheeler debris it is important to protect your legal rights. Contact Dugas Law Firm so that we can discuss your options with you and help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Related Posts
  • Extra Training, Extra Care for Hazmat Tanker Drivers Read More
  • Poorly Maintained Trucks Lead to Crashes Read More
  • Sideswipes and Driver Fatigue Read More