ADOT gives inside look at the yard where freeway debris is held

Posted at 10:25 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 16:34:54-05

PHOENIX — Debris is piling up on Valley freeways. ADOT's Incident Response Team says one-third of the calls they get are specifically to pick those items up.

Dawna Wukitsch says she's seen it all, while out driving.

"Ladders, mattresses, I've even seen like patio furniture," says Wukitsch.

She tries to swerve to miss those items, but, has been hit before.

"All of a sudden... smack. I mean, it sounded like somebody shot in our car," says Wukitsch.

The aftermath: the back window on the passenger side shattered, likely due to a piece of tire tread along I-10.

"By the time we pulled off, it was like half the window is completely missing," says Wukitsch.

ADOT is finding different ways to address this dangerous problem, a problem that keeps happening.

"Any of this stuff could pose a risk. So, I mean, this is just in the last day or two, what our guys collected off the Valley freeways," says Ryan Harding, public Information officer for ADOT showing ABC15 where the debris is stored.

ADOT has five yards where all those lost items are brought to. ABC15 stopped by one: finding mattresses, filing cabinets, a desk, couch and ductwork. This continues to be a problem even after numerous posts to 'secure your load.'

"Solid straps or rope - tying those things to your vehicle. Another tip is putting lighter items, like tree clippings, on the bottom and then weigh it down with heavier things on top," says Harding.

ADOT launched an incident response team two years ago to respond quicker to these types of situations, expanding their hours to weekends.

Statewide debris-related crash numbers show:

2019 - 2,172 & 5 deaths

2020 - 2,318 & 5 deaths

It's a scary reality for drivers who are out there every day.

"I mean, realistically it is personal responsibility. You should know, if you've got something that's going to fly out of the back of your truck," says Wukitsch.

Unsecured loads aren't just unsafe, it's against the law.

DPS says violators could face a charge and a hefty fine.