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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Are trucks driving too fast for their tires?

On behalf of Noland Law Firm, LLC posted in truck accidents on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

The safe operation of a car or truck on the highway requires dozens of factors to align properly. The driver needs to be competent, not intoxicated, distracted or fatigued. The vehicle needs to be in safe operating condition, with all of the equipment, such as brakes, tires, steering and engine components working properly. Even items like mirrors and windshield wipers, which may seem trivial, can become critical under some conditions.

Some factors may be purely technical, and may become apparent only in special circumstances. Tires, for instance, are "speed rated," which means the highest speed at which the tire is safely designed to operate. Most passenger vehicles tires are able to operate up to 112 miles per hour.

Truck tires, however, typically carry a lower speed rating. Most are limited to 75 mph. This is potentially a problem, as the speed limits in some state have been raised to 80 mph, and Texas has raised it to 85 mph in some locations. Missouri is considering raising it to 75 mph.

After a string of truck accidents involving Michelin truck tires, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated an investigation of the tires. They found that in all 16 crashes, it was operator error by driving in excess of the 75 mph speed rating on the tires that caused the blowouts and crashes.

Unfortunately, a regulation that would place governors on all trucks and limit their speed to 75 mph or slower has been tied up with lobbying interests. Truck drivers, of course, do not need to drive faster than their equipment can handle, but shipping deadlines create strong incentives for drivers to maximize their speeds.

In a four-year period, there were 14,000 fatal truck crashes, and almost 200 were tire related, causing 223 deaths. While seemingly a small number, if it is someone in your family, even one death would be one too many.


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