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Advice on how to avoid freeway debris after woman narrowly misses flying piece of wood

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – A Fort Bend County woman's close call with road debris was caught on dash cam and now she's sharing her story as a warning to others.

The close call happened just after noon Wednesday, as Samantha Mattison was heading home from the gym, driving southbound on Highway 59 near University in Sugar Land.

"You hear about things coming out of nowhere and this seems like it came out of nowhere," Mattison said.

Video from her dashcam shows what appears to be a 2-by-4 piece of wood flying toward her car. Mattison had only seconds to react.

VIDEO: Dashcam video of road debris

"I'm thinking, 'Wow, there's a board coming straight at me. I need to get out of the way. I need to swerve, because this board is coming through the windshield and it is going to hit me,'" she said.

Thankfully, it didn't.

"It's really scary, I feel really lucky because if the board would've been six inches to the right, I would have been dead," Mattison said.

Texas AAA said unsecured loads contribute to road debris. The latest numbers from the Texas Department of Transportation show unsecured loads led to more than 1,200 crashes statewide in 2017 and five of those were fatal.

The Texas Department of Transportation uses its network of cameras to keep track of road debris trouble but also relies on reports from motorists.

"We can immediately dispatch a crew, get somebody out there to handle those issues," said TXDOT spokesperson Danny Perez.

Mattison said she hopes drivers will stay alert and those hauling anything will take heed.

AAA offers the following tips:

  • Drivers should continually search the road ahead at least 12 to 15 seconds for debris.
  • Don't tailgate. By maintaining leaving at least three to four seconds of following distance, you can see potential objects in the road ahead easier.
  • If you see you are about to make contact with debris, say with a piece of tire, safely reduce your speed as much as possible prior to making contact.
  • Always be aware of open space around your vehicle.
  • Drivers should maintain open space to the front and at least one side of their vehicle at all times.
  • Should the need arise, a driver can steer into that open space to avoid contact with an object.