Debris on roads continues to be a major problem

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MURRAY -- Utah Highway Patrol troopers want to find whoever left a large crate behind on I-15. It caused a pair of accidents on I-15 Wednesday morning.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Kellie Oaks said a driver was traveling southbound near 4500 South around 6 a.m., swerved to miss the crate and hit the wall instead. A trooper who was driving to work actually struck the crate, too.

Oaks said, "Motorist swerved to avoid striking it and hit the wall. She has some minor injuries, cuts to her face. She's been transported to the hospital. And a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in his unmarked vehicle struck the crate and stopped to provide her assistance. He wasn't injured."

**Did you know...**![](
- More than 25,000 crashes are caused by litter annually in North America. Lost debris caused two fatal crashes in Utah in 2008. - Cleaning up litter and debris on Utah's highways costs taxpayers more than $2 million each year. - About 8,000 truckloads - one-ton each - of litter are hauled to landfills in Utah annually. - According to a 2007 New York Times article, nearly 40% of roadside litter is made up of large items such as furniture, appliances and yard equipment. *- UDOT*
Oaks said if investigators can find the driver who dropped the crate, they will charge that person with failure to secure a load. If anybody saw what happened, they are asked to call Utah Highway Patrol.

"Debris is a big problem. We probably have a crash every day from debris," Oaks told KSL. "People lose things and other people strike them."

It wasn't the only debris-related incident of the day.

"We're constantly, constantly removing debris out of the road," said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Mary Kaye Lucas, who's investigating the crashes.

Later Wednesday, troopers got a call to another problem.

"Somebody had tarped down their load of tree branches," Lucas said. "There was even a door in there. They tarped it, and they tarped it well enough, but they didn't tarp it to the trailer or the truck or whatever it was, and the whole entire bundle came out and covered a lane of traffic, again putting the motoring public at risk," she said.

Previous incidents where drivers were hurt by road debris

On Sept. 16, five people, including a 5-year-old girl, were hospitalized after a car trying to avoid a bale of hay on a Magna road collided with two other vehicles. Two of them went to the hospital in critical condition.

Last month, shortly after he merged his motorcycle into I-15 traffic at 2600 South in Bountiful, Spero Fotes slammed into a 20-foot long, 6-inch diameter industrial hose.

"It all happened so fast," Fotes said. "It threw me into a fishtail. It made me veer into the fast lane."

As he veered, he hit a truck and flew over his handlebars.

The issue is clearly on the radar screen of transportation managers. They started the "Litter Hurts" campaign. They made TV commercials, billboards and a traveling display.

They held a press conference June 30 featuring the son of Meredith Deckard, who was killed in an accident caused by road debris.

He said her death could have been easily avoided. He said, "It's all because someone didn't take the extra five minutes to tie down their load."

Over the years troopers report recovering:

  • refrigerators
  • hot tubs
  • bath tubs
  • swamp coolers
  • couches
  • clothes

Everyday it seems like they come across something new: like the potentially lethal steel crate.

Oaks said, "We as always encourage people to secure their load because you never know when it is going to cost someone their life."


Compiled with contributions from Andrew Adams,Marc Giauque and John Daley.


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