UDOT: Road debris causes 1,800 crashes every year

Jun 30, 2021, 5:17 PM

road debris survivor abe dietz holding a shovel...

Salem resident Abe Dietz holds the shovel that went through his windshield on I-15 near Pleasant Grove Boulevard. Photo: KSL TV

MURRAY, Utah — A Salem man who survived a scary encounter with road debris on I-15 is living proof we need to do something about all the trash — and other items — accumulating along Utah roads. 

“Like a sonic boom”

Abe Dietz was driving south on I-15 when he encountered heavy traffic in Utah County near Pleasant Grove Boulevard. 

“I was in the middle of the freeway, and I went to change lanes, and I heard this — like a sonic boom,” Dietz told KSL TV’s Morgan Wolfe.

He thought maybe a truck tire blew out next to him. But then he realized he couldn’t see anything. His wife took the wheel, steering them to the side of the road. 

“I looked down . . . and this shovel was sitting next to my leg, between my leg and my door,” he said. 

Dietz survived, but with cuts to his face, and glass that had to be removed from his eyes. 

Road debris blamed for 1,800 crashes annually

According to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), debris and unsecured loads cause 1,800 crashes every year. Moreover, the Utah Highway Patrol reports a 17% increase in calls related to road debris over the past five years. 

The amount of time spent cleaning up these items jumped 28% over the last five years, with UDOT picking up 32,500 gallons of litter just in the Salt Lake area in the month of June. 

UDOT officials said the agency spends around $2.5 million annually to pick up road debris, from small trash to appliances, ladders, and the occasional square-nosed shovel. 

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UDOT: Road debris causes 1,800 crashes every year