All drivers have seen the tire debris that litters our nation’s roads. The long black strips or the rubber pebbles strewn across the highway are the result of tire failures, and they often have been stripped from the wheels of a commercial truck. Many commercial trucks intended for long-haul driving have as many as 18 tires. When one or more of these tires suffers from a defect, rollovers and other dangerous accidents occur. Over 3,800 people died in large truck crashes in 2013, and the majority of those killed were passenger car occupants.
When Drivers and Carriers Are Inattentive
Drivers are required by law to thoroughly inspect their vehicle before taking to the road. Often, however, these inspections are done hastily or skipped entirely. Even when appropriate inspections take place, noted problems may not be fixed properly. When this happens, potential problems are missed and can lead to dangerous crashes. Common causes of tire issues include:
- Improperly inflated tires – Vehicles with underinflated tires are up to three times more likely to be involved in an accident. Underinflation makes driving more difficult and increases the risk of the tires overheating.
- Excessively worn tires – Tread depth violations were among the top citations issued in roadside inspections. Experts recommend replacing tires when they reach a 4/32-inch tread depth.
- Tires mismatched in size or wear – Tires with of different size or wear affect the stability of the vehicle. The truck cannot run steadily, as different tires will put uneven and unpredictable pressure on other tires and parts of the vehicle.
- Mixed bias and radial tires on the same axle – Just as experts advise against mixing tire sizes, different types of tires are should not be placed on the same vehicle. Bias and radial tires wear differently and handle different due to sidewall differences.
- Overloaded tires. When too much cargo is loaded onto a truck, the tires can be overwhelmed. Cargo heavier than recommended can contribute to underinflation and leave the truck difficult to handle.
When Tire Manufacturers Are to Blame
Tire manufacturers are required by law to meet certain standards in production. When companies fail to do so, they may face repercussions. In some cases, the federal government issues a recall for the defective tires. The Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a list of all recalled tires on their website at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchSafetyIssues.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident with a commercial truck and you suspect a tire defect is to blame, the experienced legal team at Morris James LLP may be able to help. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.