We've said it many times before, but clearly it bears repeating: Any object being carried in a pickup truck bed needs to be tied down. Full stop. Here's today's vivid object lesson:

A woman driving on Interstate 95 near Rockledge, Fla., on Friday escaped death when a sheet of plywood flew out of the bed of a truck and slashed through the windshield of her Honda — at neck height.

Florida Today says Rebecca Burgman, 35, of Melbourne, Fla., had only minor injuries. The saving grace was the plywood was wider than the windshield, so the car's A-pillars stopped it from decapitating her. But the leading corner of the plywood penetrated the car in a near-miss. Had Burgman had a passenger, well ...

Brevard County Fire Rescue shared photos of the accident.

A study by the AAA showed that between 2011 and 2014, some 200,000 accidents nationwide were caused by unsecured loads, resulting in 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

But people keep endangering their fellow motorists — like this gory incident recently in which a flying ax smashed through a windshield, struck the driver and bloodied the cab of his truck. And with more people buying pickups than ever before, perhaps owning a truck for the first time in their lives, it stands to reason that the risk of this happening could rise.

No matter what you're hauling, no matter how safe you think it is, a pothole or airflow could prove you wrong with disastrous results. Secure your load with tarps and/or sturdy rope, straps or netting.

As for the rest of us: Give pickups and other trucks a wide berth and a lot of following distance, because even when loads are secured they might not stay that way — don't risk your life on someone else's knot-tying abilities: The plywood that hit Burgman's car came from a load that Jaime Riveira, 51, of Haines City, Fla., thought he had tied down. He was ticketed for faulty equipment, the Florida Highway Patrol's Lt. Kim Montes said.



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