The Danger of Flying Debris From Trucks

In this blog, we explore the potential of injury and even death due to unsecured debris flying off trucks. Keep reading to learn the risks and what to do should you fall victim to a car accident caused by truck driver negligence.

Understanding the risks of unsecured cargo

When we think about car accidents and how they can happen, usually speeding, reckless behavior, and inattention to the road come to mind. While these actions cause accidents every day, it is important to be aware of less common catalysts. Today, we are specifically exploring the dangers from debris and cargo that can fly off the back of trucks and create unexpected roadway hazards.

From small chunks of concrete to furniture and everything in between, loose cargo can cause serious damage at highway speeds. With a single jolt, unsecured items can be thrown off the back of an open truck bed, as found on garbage trucks, roadway repair transports, or pickups. These items, launched at a high rate of speed, pose a significant threat to other drivers. They could crash through your windshield, fall directly in front of you with no time or space to avoid striking them, or crush the top of your smaller vehicle.

Even if items fall off without another vehicle close by, they might scatter across the road and create a deadly obstacle course. Debris from unsecured loads on trucks has played a role in thousands of vehicular injuries and deaths.

Non-commercial vehicles drivers

Not all car accidents caused by unsecured debris involve commercial trucks. In one reported case involving an individual driving a U-Haul, a piece of particle board flew out of the rented trailer and left a 24-year-old woman with every bone in her face crushed. She suffered through years of painful surgeries and therapies and had to relearn how to swallow, speak, and walk — but sadly, she will never see again. She has since become a crusader against driving with unsecured cargo and educating lawmakers about the risks. Her efforts led to inclusion in a National Safety Bill of a directive for states to address this issue in their roadway safety campaigns. Her experience serves as a reminder that anyone transporting loose cargo needs to take the responsibility of securing it seriously. The devastating injuries incurred from fallen or flying truck debris have the potential to affect people for the rest of their lives, requiring expensive treatment and accommodations to recover.

Fortunately, our state has laws against unsecured cargo. The California State Tarping Law dictates that no vehicle transporting essentially any cargo may do so, “unless the load is totally covered in a manner that will prevent the load or any part of the load from spilling or falling from the vehicle.” Truckers are instructed to carefully tarp loose loads like garbage or sand and ensure there are no gaps for something to escape. This law has indeed helped make Los Angeles and the surrounding areas’ roads safer for all.

Unfortunately, it is not foolproof.

Even with this law, and truck driver adherence, accidents can still happen and be made far worse by the presence of truck debris becoming unsecured during transport. In May of 2023, a drunk driver in South Los Angeles crashed into a garbage truck resulting in the entire road being covered in trash debris. Aside from the victims’ own significant injuries, this accident required hours of meticulous cleanup before it was safe for anyone to travel anywhere near the site. It is all too easy to see how several cars traveling at highway speeds into tons of trash could end horribly wrong.

What trucking companies and drivers can do to help

Unsecured truckloads do not only pose a danger to those around the vehicle on the highway. The truckers themselves are at risk of serious injury or death if they try to handle cargo that is improperly or insufficiently secured. These risks can and should be mitigated by training on the importance of securing cargo properly by trucking companies. As for noncommercial truck drivers, such as those driving pickups or rented trucks, they should also take the time to learn how to safely secure their loads before hitting the road.

Anyone driving a truck should take the risk seriously regardless. Truck drivers should use load bars and straps, ensure they aren’t overloaded, put tarps on correctly when indicated, and avoid aggravating factors like speeding or becoming distracted while driving. Not every accident can be prevented, but many involving flying or fallen debris certainly could.

An experienced California car accident attorney will fight for you

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured because of unsecured truck cargo, your first step after seeking medical attention and filing a police report should be to contact an experienced car and truck accident attorney. Proving liability after an accident of any sort is essential to receiving lifesaving financial compensation for medical bills, accommodations, lost wages, and more, but it is not easy to do alone — especially against truckers and their employers. Contact Scott J. Corwin, a Professional Law Corporation, and let your attorney take on the proverbial heavy lifting of fact-finding, form-filing, and overall case-building while you and your family focus on recovery.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact from to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.