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Road debris could cause headaches for holiday travelers

Nine times out of 10, customers don't know where the debris came from and have to pay their own deductible to get their cars fixed.

The Alabama Department of Transportation says in 2014 and 2015 statewide there were 1,342 documented accidents involving road debris. The most common item drivers hit: tires and tree limbs.

"Scared the heck out of me, I can tell you that," said Brandon Martin.

Martin knows exactly what it's like to hit a tire on the interstate.

"A full tire in the middle of the road, and I just ran straight over it, and it actually bent the side rails on my car," said Martin.

"Usually, what I see is tires or wood," said Cockrell's Body Shop manager Dan Bridges.

Bridges says fixing cars that have been hit by debris is fairly common. In fact, a few minutes after we called him for an interview an insurance claim caused by road debris came through.

"Apparently some carpet flew off and hit the car," said Bridges.

Nine times out of 10, Bridges says, customers don't know where the debris came from and have to pay their own deductible to get their cars fixed.

"It's usually undercarriage damage, oil pan, tires, front bumper, splash shields. A lot of these front bumpers are plastic. The lower splash shields are plastic. It usually just rips those away from the vehicle," said Bridges.

ALDOT actively looks for debris in the road, and in 2015, responded 2,349 times to pick up debris in Mobile, Baldwin, Conecuh, and Escambia counties.

"We've picked up couches, sofas, refrigerators, ice chests, ladders, just anything you can think of," said ALDOT Automated Transportation System Center Manager David Johnson.

Each month, ALDOT says it picks up 200 tons of road debris in those same counties.

AAA says debris in the road was responsible for 500 deaths and 39,000 injuries from 2011-2014. ALDOT says road debris caused two deaths and at least 89 injuries in 2014.

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