Road debris – what is it, and how can you avoid it?

It has been said that roads are the lifelines of empires. Since Roman times roads were used to facilitate travel and trade – they were also magnets for bandits, predators, slips and fallen trees. Today, some things have changed, and some have not.

On today’s urban and suburban roads, you don’t have to worry about wolves or bandits, but danger still lurks unseen, and it’s called road debris.


What is road debris?

Road debris is anything present on the road that shouldn’t be there and that threatens to cause damage. It can take any number of forms. For example, it could be tree branches, industrial waste like oil, or metal scraps. It could be building materials like bricks or even smaller objects like nails. Natural debris like roadkill also exists.

Where does road debris originate?

Just as road debris itself is varied, so too are the things that create it. However, the most common causes are unsecured loads on vehicles, roadworks, vehicle accidents, and bad weather.

All of these things can cause debris that litters the road. What can further aggravate the prevalence of debris is a lack of road maintenance. Most cities should have teams dedicated to it, but debris can appear at a moment’s notice.

Why debris is a risk factor?

Road debris is a risk in two ways because it can damage your car or cause an accident that could cost lives.

Smaller bits of debris can damage your car, often in ways that you may not immediately notice. For example, a branch or smaller piece of metal could tear something underneath your vehicle and cause a leak.

A bigger piece of debris could throw out your wheel alignment. Even if a car in front of you hits some debris, it could damage your car. An example of this is loose stones that get flung at your windscreen.

That on its own can be costly and annoying. However, these incidents can have a knock-on effect and cause accidents. A burst tire or oil slick can send a car off course and into another, into a structure, or off a cliff.

How To Avoid Road Debris

The best way to prevent being affected by road debris is to be aware and pay attention while driving. That’s a good rule of thumb for driving in general, but while you usually keep an eye out for the cars around you, cast your eyes downwards from time to time on the road ahead of you to see any debris before you hit it.

It’s also a good idea to avoid driving on dirt roads when possible and not driving during heavy storms that increase the likelihood of debris and decrease your ability to see it.

Lastly, report any debris you see to the local council. That way, it can be cleared before anyone has an accident. Do not try and remove it yourself because this could end up causing an accident on its own!


Smaller bits of debris can damage your car in subtle ways – think loose gravel or tar threw up on newly surfaced roads. If your vehicle is damaged by road debris, book a check-up with Hibiscus Coast today!

For more advice, talk to the team at Hibiscus Coast Panelbeaters about high-quality service to renew your vehicle.