BOISE – As fall weather returns to the forecast, AAA is reminding drivers to watch out for road debris.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department, as many as 270 crashes were caused by falling or shifting cargo last year, with another 350 crashes caused by striking an object in the road, such as debris.  Both can result in serious injury and an expensive vehicle repair.

“It’s a good idea to watch for tree limbs in the road this time of year, especially after a storm,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “You should also increase your following distance when traveling behind a vehicle that is hauling furniture, gravel, landscaping materials, or other cumbersome items.  The more vigilant you are and the more time you have to react, the better your chances of avoiding a crash.”

AAA urges drivers to contribute to safer roads by properly securing their load, pulling on ropes and tiedowns from multiple angles to check them, and covering the entire load with a tarp.

Conde added, “Previous AAA research shows that attempts to avoid road debris resulted in injury 43 percent of the time, while actually striking the debris resulted in injury 16 percent of the time.  Vehicles have crumple zones and lots of safety features to protect you in a crash, while evasive maneuvers could put you into oncoming traffic or off the road altogether.  We encourage drivers to exercise good judgment as they encounter unique road conditions this fall.”