Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closed an investigation into 16 tire blowouts on 18-wheelers. Government officials concluded that each blowout was caused by truck drivers exceeding the 75 mile per hour rating on their tires. While big rig tire blowouts have been linked to accidents in the past, recent changes in the maximum allowable speed limits for several states have caused a new inquiry.
Over the past 10 years, nearly all truck tires were built for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph. At the time, the vast majority of states allowed for maximum speed limits of 65 or 70 mph. However, 14 states, including Texas, now allow maximum speed limits of 75, 80 or even 85 mph. The result is that more and more 18-wheelers are being driven at speeds in excess of their safe tire rating.
According to industry experts, habitually driving faster than a tire’s rated speed generates excessive friction and heat, damaging the tire. Truck drivers are sometimes forced to drive for several hours without stopping. When combined with other factors, such as driving with under-inflated tires or loads that are too heavy, the likelihood of a blowout can increase. Making matters even worse, some truck drivers are not even aware of the proper inflation levels or the speed rating of their tires.
From 2009 to 2013, almost 16,000 people died in accidents involving 18-wheelers with over 200 of those deaths involving tires as a factor. As noted by tire industry expert Dan Zielinski, “[a]n 18-wheeler is not a Porsche, and shouldn’t be driven like one.”
If you or someone you know was injured or killed in an accident involving an 18-wheeler, it is important to understand your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884 for a confidential consultation.