Recently a relatively surprising accident came out in the Massachusetts news when, on Route 95, an axe flew off a landscaping truck and landed halfway through the passenger side of a car’s windshield traveling behind the truck. An alarming photo shows the axe point stopped at the dashboard, not much more than a foot from the legs of the passenger. Thankfully for this particular passenger, the car was driving at the posted speed limit, as a faster speed could have sent the axe through the windshield to cause serious possible bodily harm. While safety conscious motorists often consider the possibilities of accidents caused by another guy’s vehicle, they often do not consider flying objects from the other guy’s vehicle or even the inside of their own vehicles.
Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 51,000 (2010) motor vehicle accidents have been caused by a vehicle versus an object, this is a serious matter to the cargo carrier and the motorist. With that in mind, are there laws that protect motorists from incidents such as the flying axe accident? There are secure cargo laws, varying by state, that bring fines and liability issues to law violators. The landscape truck driver in this sample incident was fined $200 in Massachusetts and on the hook for the property damage caused to the windshield. If the passenger had been more than frightened in this accident, the driver would also have been on the hook for bodily injury. In our own state of Nebraska, Neb.Rev.Stat.§60-6,304 covers requirements for keeping cargo and contents secure, properly sized, and distributed, with the penalty for violating this statute being a Class IV misdemeanor. So next time you chuckle about that vehicle traveling down the road carrying cargo like the Griswold family car in the classic 1983 movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation National Lampoon’s Vacation, think about the possible danger any vehicle carrying contents represents to all of those sharing the road.
In addition to injury concerns from someone else’s cargo, the motorist can also be endangered by his or her own vehicle contents becoming dangerous projectiles during an accident impact or situation where there is considerable momentum. This danger became reality for a California family, as told by ABC News. During a head-on accident in the family vehicle, the family’s one year old son’s skull was fractured by a flying cell phone from within the vehicle. Fortunately, this child survived but this brings attention to the need to protect yourself and your passengers from inside cargo concerns. Be proactive in keeping objects within a vehicle in the vehicle’s secure storage areas or compartments and/or sectioned off from the humans in the vehicle by the use of cargo nets. Such nets can be purchased for a relatively reasonable price, especially when compared to the price of you or a loved one being injured or even killed by inside unsecured cargo.