With the popularity of both home improvement shows and big box stores, many homeowners have decided to tackle projects on their own. Unfortunately, despite being able to buy lumber, appliances and other large items, many individuals have limited experience loading and unloading cargo. 

According to one study, more than 200,000 motor vehicle accidents in a recent four-year period involved road debris. In these, nearly 39,000 individuals sustained some type of injury and another 500 died. Here are four ways you can avoid an unsecured cargo accident. 

1. Maintain a safe following distance

Safe driving never includes tailgating. Still, to minimize your chances of having a debris-related collision, you should always maintain a safe following distance. Apply the three second rule to know if you are following too closely. 

2. Focus on the horizon

If you are moving down the highway at the posted speed limit, you may have only a few seconds to respond to road debris. By focusing on the horizon, you may spot debris earlier, giving you more time to take evasive action. 

3. Put away your smartphone

Even under ideal circumstances, distracted driving is a bad idea. If you are sending a text message or staring at your smartphone, though, you may not see road debris. Consequently, until you reach your destination, you should stash your smartphone and avoid other distractions. 

4. Alert the authorities

Because unsecured loads put lives in danger, you may want to help protect others. If you see debris in a roadway, call 911 to alert law enforcement. Moreover, if you notice an improperly loaded vehicle that may become a safety hazard, you probably also should notify the police. Either way, officers may use your tip to dispatch a road crew to remove the hazard.