Current U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Hours of Service (HOS) regulations allow truckers to spend 11 consecutive hours driving their 18-wheelers. This time limit gives tractor-trailer operators more than ample time to cover a lot of mileage during a single shift.
Truckers can operate their trucks across various types of terrain and temperatures during a single workday, all of which can put truckers at risk for tire blowouts. How common is this phenomenon, and why do these incidents occur? We’ll address the frequency with which truck tires blow out and the circumstances in which they do below.
How Common Are Tire Blowouts?
Some of the most recent data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that tire failures result in an estimated 11,000 crashes and 200 fatalities annually here in the U.S.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) data suggests that at least 33,000 crashes each year in the U.S. are attributable to tire issues in general. That federal agency specifically classifies 2,000 of those 33,000 as involving tire blowouts.
How Does Weather Impact a Tire’s Blowout Risk?
Weather is a significant factor that impacts tire integrity, as it can cause over or under-inflation.
Auto safety analysts note that applying the Goldilocks principle is best when you’re trying to determine the ideal climate for minimizing the chance of a blowout. As you’ll remember from the old fairy tale, Goldilocks preferred her porridge to be neither too hot nor too cold. This approach is also best for ensuring the integrity of your tires.
Motorists (truckers included) will often notice that their tires are less filled than they typically are or see the low-pressure light up on their dashboards as the winter season sets in. Under-inflated tires tend to overheat from friction as motorists drive on them, making them vulnerable to blowouts.
The opposite may occur as warmer weather sets in. Summer heat tends to cause air within tires to expand, which can cause them to burst. Some auto safety analysts suggest that tires are most apt to experience a blowout in the summer, especially when they’re not in optimal condition, i.e., they have limited tread life left.
Industry data shows that a temperature over 195 degrees Fahrenheit is when tires become unsafe. Safety analysts note that a tire becomes structurally unsound at 250 degrees, thus increasing its blowout potential.
What Impact Does Speed Have on Tire Blowouts?
Speed is one of the leading causes of tire failure. Research shows the faster a motorist travels, the more stress it puts on their tires, increasing their blowout risk. Studies have shown that the closer a driver’s speed is to 75 miles per hour (MPH), the more likely their tires will fail. This insight, in part, motivated the American Trucking Association to petition Washington, D.C. lawmakers to cap the speed limit at 65 mph for truckers a few years ago.
What Role Does Maintenance Play in Tire Blowout Rates?
The DOT requires all truckers to complete a pre-trip inspection before taking off on a trip and every 24 hours that they remain on the road. This inspection can take up to an hour to complete. There are certain systems and components that the DOT requires truckers to check. These include:
- Ball joints
- Fluid levels
- Tire pressure
- The presence and integrity of the fifth wheel
- Any signs of leaks
It should be noted that over-braking and installing differently sized or worn tires increases the likelihood that a trucker will experience a tire blowout. Federal officials require truckers to perform this inspection because they’re well aware that wear and tear on these systems can put pressure on other components, such as tires, increasing the probability of a blowout.
How Road Hazards Impact Tire Blowout Rates
Many areas in Louisville, KY receive rain, snow, and ice and experience bitterly cold and extremely hot temperatures. The efforts that road crews must put in to treat the highways that truckers travel leave the asphalt and concrete vulnerable to developing potholes, a big nemesis for truckers looking to maintain their tire integrity.
Some other road hazards that leave tractor-trailer operators vulnerable to blowouts include:
- Road debris, such as nails
- Bridge gaps or joints
- Upright railroad ties
- Lane joints
- Road construction heavy equipment parts
What Impact Does Manufacturing Have on Tire Blowout Rates?
Our truck accident lawyer team has seen their fair share of cases where manufacturer defects are to blame for tire blowouts. That was determined to be the case a few years ago when the manufacturer Firestone ended up recalling over 14 million tires after many of its customers experienced blowouts, resulting in them losing control of their vehicles. By the time the tire recall occurred, over 271 people had lost their lives in these incidents.
What Are Your Rights If a Truck Tire Blowout Hurts You?
As detailed in the statistics cited earlier in this article, tire failures of all sorts cause a staggering number of motorists to become injured in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. Others lose their lives in such incidents.
Tires are often propelled violently toward unsuspecting motorists when they come apart. The force with which tires collide with vehicles is often equivalent to how fast a trucker was traveling when the incident occurred. This insight explains why these crashes are often so catastrophic if they strike a passenger car or motorcycle. These incidents can obstruct a motorist’s view and crash through their window, causing blunt force trauma. An errant blown tire can easily strike a motorcyclist, knocking them off their motorbike.
Our truck accident attorneys at Thomas Law Offices have extensive experience helping Louisville, KY residents like you who have suffered serious injuries from a tire blowout incident. You’re likely to have significant medical bills now and in the future. Let us advise you of all the avenues you can pursue to ensure you receive just compensation in your case.
How Has COVID-19 Caused Nursing Home Shortages?