Road debris piercing windshields a concern for San Antonio drivers

Woman cut in head Friday morning on Highway 281

SAN ANTONIO – Roadway debris-related injuries happen more than people might think, according to Dr. John Eftekhar, a forensic car accident engineer and owner of J. Eftekhar and Associates.

One such incident happened Friday morning on Highway 281 when a piece of a metal rim crashed through a woman's windshield. She suffered a deep gash on her head, but is expected to survive.

While not involved in Friday's accident investigation, Eftekhar is familiar with incident of the sort.

"I have cases where the roadway objects that were picked up by the moving vehicle caused a fatality,” Eftekhar said.

It all depends on the shape and makeup of the object in the roadway. Debris can be erratic due to forces like aerodynamics, Eftekhar. There are also cases in which objects like thin, metal plates can float in the air after being picked up by a car.

"They become a floating object,” Eftekhar said. “That moving vehicle can hit those floating objects and often it becomes like a guillotine."

Even if an object does not have any forward velocity, a vehicle going 65 mph provides plenty of force to send something through a windshield, Eftekhar said.

"You don't know to steer away, to brake, to go to the left, or go to the right,” he said.

It often comes back to the issue that road debris is common on San Antonio’s highways.

"We see a lot of cargo coming out of the pickup trucks. We see ice chests, ladders, things of that nature,” Eftekhar said. “Securement of a load is the key.”

In Friday morning’s case, the piece of metal went through the windshield and exited a back window.

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