BIG RIGS AND TIRE BLOWOUTS – A RISING PROBLEM
You’ve seen them on most every major freeway and interstate – those large pieces of tires that seem to litter the side of the road. If you’ve taken notice, often those discards are accompanied by long, black tire marks on the road, many times swerving onto the inner meridian or shoulder.
These are the remnants of big rig tire blowouts, and those skid marks the legacy of some multi-ton rig struggling to regain control.
When a truck tire decides to blow, it does it in a big way. The rubber treads many times fly off the wheel at highway speeds. If you’re unlucky enough to be in its path, the consequences can be frightening and destructive.
Hitting your windshield can shatter the glass – leaving you driving blind. Impacting the sides or hood can leave some pretty serious metal damage. Then again, if those chunks of rubber fall under your vehicle, they can cause under chassis damage, or if they hit your tires – cause you to lose control of your vehicle. No matter how they impact your car, the entire experience won’t be very pleasant. Sometimes they’re downright deadly.
When a big rig swerves, you better watch out! Any auto in its path doesn’t stand a chance. Get sideswiped by one of those monsters, and you’ll be in for a monumental world of hurt and injury.
Even worse is when a big rig jackknifes. The physics are simple: When the truck’s trailer exceeds a 45 degree angle from the cab, jackknifing will probably happen. If the roads are icy or wet, once that trailer starts to slide, it’s usually game over. Now if you’re the hapless auto or bus driver involved in such an event, you can be another accident statistic in no time flat.
ACCIDENTS ON THE RISE
According to CBS News in an April 2015 report, deadly big rig tire-related accidents are increasing. The reasons?
There are actually several – and adding them up together spells trouble.
Most big rig tires carry a maximum safety rating of 75 miles an hour. This simply means under ideal condition, these tires can travel at sustained speeds of 75 mph without failing.
The operative word here is “ideal.”
The tire ratings assume proper tire maintenance has been performed, and the tires themselves are in prime condition.
All too often this isn’t the case.
POOR TIRE MAINTENANCE
One of the most common areas where truckers fail to follow proper safety measures is something as simple as tire pressure. Many drivers say they can tell if a tire is properly inflated by the sound the tires make when thumped with a small wooden bat. Or a trucker may put off accurately measuring the tires at regular intervals due to time constraints. In any event, if the tire is actually not inflated to the proper poundage – that’s an accident in the making.
Under-inflated tires cause more friction where the rubber meets the road. More friction equals more heat and more material stress. Drive long enough, and these added factors can cause the tire to fail.
In fact, failure to inspect tires along with poor tire maintenance are two of the three leading causes of big rig tire failure. The other is a defective tire itself.
Tire defects are not unknown. Of course, when a defect is detected, the manufacturer is required to issue a recall. All well and fine, but if the trucking company doesn’t keep abreast of these recalls, their rigs can be ticking time bombs on the nation’s highways.
103 COFFINS LAID END TO END
18 wheelers are heavy! 80,000 lbs. of steel and cargo is careening down that highway – and at 55 miles an hour, it would take the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. That’s 240 yards, or 103 coffins laid end to end. Of course, add in extra speed and non-ideal road conditions and braking distances can be far greater.
In fact, it’s estimated that between the time a driver notices a problem, and the time it takes to react and actually try to stop the vehicle, six seconds go by. Add in another 50 or so of those coffins.
Which leads us to this unsettling fact. You read above most big rig tires are rated for a maximum of 75 miles an hour. However in many places (Texas included) the maximum highway speed is 80 mph or even greater. While it may be legal to travel faster than the 75 mph rating, it certainly isn’t safe.
Now if you add into these excessive speeds poor tire maintenance and lousy road conditions (such as chuck holes and the like) one can easily see why these big rig tire blowouts are increasing.
In Europe, they’ve taken a more proactive approach. Big trucks cannot exceed 56 miles per hour. It’s not just the law; trucks are actually outfitted with a limiter preventing the vehicle from exceeding this speed.
TERRY BRYANT LAW FIRM
Colliding with tire blowout debris can be both harrowing and harmful. Having an 18 wheeler big rig smash into you is far, far worse. More than one person has lost both life and limb to the ensuing accidents that happen.
Terry Bryant Law Firm in Houston has been helping Texas residents for over 30 years with their accident related legal problems and concerns, ensuring their clients get all the assistance and protection they are entitled to.