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Do grass clippings cause motorcycle accidents?

Cutting the grass on a Sunday afternoon is an activity that often involves sweeping the sidewalk or curb or using a leaf blower to get rid of the grass clippings into the street. Homeowners and landscaping maintenance crews may be oblivious to the fact that the simple action of sending the freshly cut grass into the street could be putting motorcycle riders at risk by reducing their ability to maintain traction.

Fresh cut grass clippings in the street can pose hazard to motorcycle riders

Most people don't realize it, but grass clippings, especially freshly cut, are considered as much a danger by authorities as gravel, sand, or other substances that can cause a motorcyclist to lose traction. In summer months, lawn trimmings can be as slippery to motorcycle riders as hitting winter ice on road surfaces. Some have even compared freshly cut grass on the road as being the same as hitting an oil slick. Generally, yard waste that blows onto road pavement presents safety hazards and may cause (motorcycle accidents caused by grass in the road). Riders may suddenly find themselves at risk as they drive over the slick grass clippings, especially if they are going at top speed.

Are motorcycle accidents caused by grass clippings?

Slippery road conditions are one of the top 10 most common reasons riders experience accidents out on the road. Wet grass can really cause problems for riders when they run over it and their tires can't get traction — especially if their tires aren't in top condition. Unless a motorcycle rider is able to identify early that a section of road is littered with grass clippings, it may be too difficult to adjust speed to move out of the way to avoid having an accident. If they can't switch lanes, avoid parked cars on a street or generally adjust their speed in time, they could lose control and have a motorcycle accident caused by grass clippings.

It's yet another hazard motorcycle riders need to watch out for when out on the road. A total of 5,014 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2019. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2019 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.

Is it illegal to blow grass into the road?

Although there are no state laws that specifically ban the practice of getting rid of grass clippings by depositing them into the roadway, some local government authorities do prohibit placing anything on the road that could cause a hazard to motorists. In a few states there are laws against blowing your grass clippings onto the roadway, but most states let the local jurisdictions determine and administer fines.

In the state of Tennessee, there are no laws specific to grass clippings being transferred into the road, however the law does address littering in general, and this is the area of law most applicable to this particular hazard. All states have a criminal penalty structure in place to address littering. The Tennessee statute regarding littering states that littering can be defined as someone who:

  1. Knowingly places, drops or throws litter on any public or private property without permission and does not immediately remove it;
  2. Negligently places or throws glass or other dangerous substances on or adjacent to water to which the public has access for swimming or wading, or on or within fifty feet (50′) of a public highway; or
  3. Negligently discharges sewage, minerals, oil products or litter into any public waters or lakes within this state.

Grass clippings fall into either rubbish or litter, and in quantity can also clog up storm sewer systems, therefore by depositing grass into the street, it could be considered to be putting litter on public property. That means litigation could be possible if in getting rid of grass clippings someone is proven to have caused a motorcyclist to suffer an injury or death.

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and grass clippings were present in the road at the time of the incident, it could be that riding conditions were affected. Contact Steelhorse Law to learn more.

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