CHP, Caltrans Warn Drivers Of The Dangers Of Road Debris

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — More than $52 million is spent annually to keep California roads clean and safe, but it’s still a battle to keep debris off the roadways.

“I had less than half a second before the Jacuzzi debris hit my body,” Norman Gregory Fernandez said. “It hit my bike, it was a scary experience. I saw my life flash in front of me. Thank God I made it through.”

Fernandez, a resident from Huntington Beach, survived without a scratch when he rode his motorcycle through remnants of a Jacuzzi hot tub that had broken apart after falling off a pickup truck on the 405 freeway.

“People need to stop dumping stuff out of their car,” he said. “Every time I have an incident like that I’m more cautious.”

Fernandez was fortunate, because road debris can cause deadly accidents. In 2006, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy David Piquette* was killed on the 91 Freeway trying to avoid a stove that fell off a truck.

In Los Angeles County alone, millions of pounds of debris are collected by dump trucks, according to Caltrans Public Information Officer, Patrick Chandler.

Chandler told CBS2’s Rick Garcia they find “pretty much everything that’s inside a common household in the United States.”

“We find mattresses, hangers, computer screens, chest drawers, ovens, stoves, microwaves, clothes and shoes,” he said.

Road debris can be harmful to drivers, but removing it can be one of the most dangerous things a Caltrans crew or CHP officer has to do.

“You always have that one person who is not paying attention, who might come at 65 miles per hour,” CHP Officer Jose Barrios said.

Barrios encourages drivers to stay attentive behind the wheel and contact authorities if there is debris in the road.

“If you see debris, be aware of your surroundings. Change lanes safely or slow down and change lanes,” Officer Jose Barrios of the CHP Southern Division said. “But if it’s a no way or last minute thing, keep driving and pull over to the right shoulder and call 911.”

For more information, visit Don’t Trash California.

*The video refers to Deputy David Piquette as an officer of the CHP, we regret the error.

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