On April 1, CBS morning news reported a disturbing trend in big rig accidents: tire blowouts causing fatal crashes are on the rise. The story stated that 223 deaths resulted from semi-truck tire blow outs between 2009 and 2013.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of Michelin tire blowouts reveals two major factors causing them: high speed—often fueled by less restrictive state speed limits—and improper tire maintenance. NHTSA reports that no truck tire is safe beyond 81 miles per hour, yet 16 states have speed limits at least 75 miles per hour, with four allowing up to 80 miles per hour.
The trucking industry itself, through the American Trucking Association (ATA), labeled speed limits over 65 miles per hour “a bad idea.” The industry has asked for federal regulation capping a truck speed at 65 miles per hour. The ATA reports while most trucking companies limit their drivers to that speed, 30 percent don’t.
Truck Accidents Could Be Prevented
An industry spokesman gave the harrowing reason behind requiring lower speeds: “the stopping distance is significantly different.” In response, NHTSA stated it seeks new rules requiring electronic governors to limit speed, as well as new labeling requirements on tires to state the tire’s maximum safe speed.
Because tractor-trailers are very complex machines, a lot can go wrong. Because they are so big, it doesn’t take much to cause a disaster; an improperly inflated or worn-out tire can render a big rig unsafe at any speed. And we all know a speeding tractor trailer is just plain lethal.
If you’ve been hurt by a big rig and wonder if improper maintenance or inadequate equipment helped cause the crash, feel free to send us an email to start a conversation about what we can do to help you recover.