Friday, June 25, 2004
Road debris causes 25,000 wrecks a year

Two years ago I was driving on highway 101 south of San Francisco. My exit was fast approaching, so I glanced over before changing lanes. As soon as I looked ahead again, there was a one foot long 4x4 in my lane (in other words, it was SMALL). I could have swerved to avoid it and caused a multi-car pile up (it was the tail end of rush hour). Instead, I grabbed the wheel, slowed down as much as possible and ran right over it. The brake pedal immediately fell to the floor, and there was a horrendous noise coming from the wheel well.


The a-hole behind me decided to cut me off as I was trying to get off the road, but a nice guy that happened to be driving a truck with a hazard light blocked traffic for me as I pulled off to the shoulder.

Long story short: the front passenger-side brake caliper --or some funky part like that-- was sheered off, releasing all the brake fluid; the front wheel rim was completely mangled to the point where the inner rim was hitting the spindle (that was the horrendous "ka-thunk" sound); the front tire was knocked off the rim and had a massive bulge on the wall; the rear wheel rim was dented and the tire had a slight bulge in it.

Total cost of repairs: $1500+, taking seven days. To top it all off, I waited for two hours on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.

The PSA part of this post is this:

If you are one of the 25,000 road debris accidents, tell your insurance company that the debris was moving-- bumped by another car, bouncing around the road, etc. They will ask you that, and it's the difference between a fault and no-fault accident. While the CHP officer said I did the right thing and it wasn't really my fault, California Vehicle Code said that it was by way of the "safe speed" law-- never mind that I was driving 45mph in a 65 zone. I had to pay for all repairs out of pocket so that it would not appear on my driving record, resulting in an increased insurance premium for four years.


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