Don’t panic: What to do when crash debris gets left on Kansas City highways

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Long after a crash scene is cleared, some Kansas City residents say the debris from the wreck sometimes remain on the road.

“It just freaked me out a little bit, having to swerve. It just gave me a little bit of a heart attack,” said resident Mary Kay Cottrill, recalling an instance where she encountered leftover debris in downtown Kansas City. “There obviously was an accident there beforehand, and they still didn’t completely clear out all the pieces.”

So who’s responsible for cleaning it up?

Both the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Kansas City Police Department say the job lies in the hands of the tow truck company assigned to the crash.

But when debris gets left behind, what should you do?

Northtown Auto Clinic service manager Erin Hall said drivers can try to avoid it. But many times, the task is impossible, and drivers end up running over glass, tire shreds or bumper pieces left in the road.

“Typically, it’s a little bit of panic,” she said.

But after the initial shock subsides, Hall said drivers should be proactive in ensuring the safety of their car and get it checked out if you’re not sure if any damage was done.

“Even if you can’t hear something immediately, there might be something hung up in there and end up being ejected down the line and that would be bad for somebody else,” Hall said.

She said metal items can cause damage the most; items like glass and bumpers cause less damage, depending on the size and impact.

But it’s better to be safe than sorry, Hall said.

“Even if you don’t feel safe driving your car, and it is safe, just you aren’t safe on the road because you are being over cautious and a little too defensive,” she said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said if drivers encounter debris on the highway, call 888-ASK-MODOT. For reports within Kansas City limits, call 311.

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