Tractor-Trailer Wrecks Linked to Increasing Speed Limits and Tire Design

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Tractor-trailers driving faster than 75 miles per hour have been linked to higher rates of blowouts and wrecks due to increasing speed limits and tire design, the Associated Press reports.

The Associated Press has found that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2013, there have been more than 14,000 fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles, resulting in the deaths of nearly 16,000 people. Tires have been cited as a factor in 198 of those crashes and 223 deaths. While the NHTSA has requested that trucks be equipped with devices preventing trucks from exceeding speeds of 75 mph, this proposal has been mired in years of government reviews and cost analyses. The NHTSA is not alone in their desire to make changes to truck speed issues, however; the American Trucking Association has also opposed states instituting speed limits of over 65 mph.

Nearly all truck tires having been designed to sustain maximum speeds of 75 mph, the Associated Press reports, and regularly driving at speeds faster than a tire's rated speed can "generate excess heat that damages the rubber, with potentially catastrophic results." Despite this, 14 states now permit speed limits of up to 80 mph, including 85 mph in parts of Texas.

While multiple measures have been proposed from both state officials and the trucking industry to prevent these tragedies, including reducing state speed limits or creating tires that can sustain higher speeds, for the time being, truck drivers continue to drive at extremely high rates of speed on our nation's highways. Dan Zielinski, spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, puts it succinctly: "An 18-wheeler is not a Porsche, and shouldn't be driven like one."

If you or someone you know have been injured or killed in an accident involving an 18-wheeler, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.

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