Debris in roadways can lead to deadly wrecks - KMSP-TV

Debris in roadways can lead to deadly wrecks

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ATLANTA -

Many of us have seen dangerous debris on Atlanta's roads and interstates. If you're not paying attention, that debris can even turn deadly. Georgia State troopers are still investigating a deadly multi-vehicle pile up last week, caused by a ladder on the interstate.

So, how can you avoid the debris? State troopers say most Atlanta wrecks are caused by drivers either following too closely or sideswiping another vehicle. Both are dangerous trends when it comes to avoiding debris on the roadways.

One LaGrange family is still searching for justice after their loved one, 59-year-old Alma Rowland-Johnson was killed in a car crash. Troopers believe a ladder fell off a vehicle, causing the pile up on Interstate 285.

"That's hard to know that your sister is gone just because of something like that - somebody's carelessness. That they didn't take that extra time to make sure that it was strapped down and secure," said Brenda Rowland-Lawrence.

Georgia State troopers say it may be more common than you think.

"I've seen mattresses. I've seen couches. Other than the paint buckets and the road tires and chairs that you normally see sometimes in Atlanta, that's about the strangest ones that I've seen in the highway," said Sgt. James Buchanan of the Georgia State Patrol.

Buchanan says drivers need to take extra precautions to make sure they have the load they may be carrying is secured before they hit the road.

"Either with tie down straps or make sure it's tied down securely so it doesn't budge. If it does budge and cause a wreck, you could be held responsible," said Buchanan. "At minimum they face a charge of failing to secure a load on a vehicle. If it comes lose and enters the highway, they can face all the way up to vehicular homicide."

A bad wreck can happen in the blink of an eye.

"The biggest thing in general in downtown Atlanta is you got people who follow other vehicles too closely. They don't have that reactionary gap that they need to leave between them and the other vehicle," Buchanan said.

Buchanan had one more piece of advice for motorists.

"They also need to take into account what vehicles are next to them on the left and right of them to make sure they have that escape route," Buchanan said.

Sometimes, troopers say, it's better to run through the debris rather than make a last second, dangerous decision to go around it.

Troopers are still investigating the crash on 285. They're working to locate the driver who's ladder came lose, and caused the pile up. Criminal charges are possible.

They say most Atlanta drivers have become aggressive drivers, instead of defensive drivers. But those defensive tactics, like using your eyes to scan farther down the road and always having an escape route left or right, can help avoid wrecks and debris.

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