CHARLOTTE, NC - County officials are warning of unsecured debris turned lethal weapons, especially as more drivers than ever are expected to hit the roads this weekend for the fourth of July holiday.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office shared the troubling numbers on social media this week: if an item weighing roughly 20 pounds were to fall out of a car going 55 miles an hour, it would strike with the impact of a half ton.

AAA predicts this weekend will break the record for Independence Day travel, with 37 million Americans expected on the highways.

And if you think you can trust every single one of those drivers to secure the loads on their vehicles, experts say you’re dead wrong.

“These type of crashes are completely preventable, if they just take the necessary precautions of securing their loads before they get on the road and maintaining your vehicle,” a AAA spokesperson said.

NCDOT officials say drivers caught with improperly secured items can face up to $2,000 in fines.

Last year in North Carolina, unsecured loads led to 657 crashes, seriously injuring 179 people and killing four.

It’s a statistic Robin Abel knows all too well. Her daughter Maria was permanently disabled after a piece of particle board crashed through her windshield on the highway.

“They shouldn't get that call saying your child's not coming home because somebody left something on the freeway that should've been tied down,” Abel said.

“It would've taken a couple minutes and a few dollars and that's it.”

In Mecklenburg county you can call 311 to report debris or unsecured loads. And whenever possible, avoid driving behind packed cars.

AAA also suggests that drivers should:

1. Tie down loads with rope, netting or straps
2. Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
3. Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
4. Don’t overload the vehicle
5. Always double check loads to make sure they are secure