Anyone who commutes to work on a major highway is familiar with scraps of tire debris scattered across the roadway. Occasionally, larger chunks of shredded tire belting stay in the middle of the lane, creating a minor traffic obstacle that can have major consequences. However, those little pieces of rubber are an indicator of a much bigger problem.
Big rigs are dangerous for a number of reasons that we’ve covered before. Many of those issues (overworked and distracted drivers, poor maintenance, etc.) receive news coverage on a daily basis. However, a little known danger was highlighted by a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this year.
Even the tires can kill you
Most truck tires on most trucks aren’t purchased new from the factory. This is a cost saving measure for trucking companies; retreaded tires are made using existing sidewalls from old tires with new tread fused on. For the most part, they are considered just as safe as a brand new tire. However, the NHTSA study, which focused on Michelin brand retreaded tires, has found a significant problem that is costing lives.
CBS News said, “According to the NHTSA, no truck tire is rated in excess of 81mph and most are rated at 75 mph, but 16 states have trucks speeds equal to or greater than 75 miles per hour; four even go beyond that, to 80mph.” At high speeds, retread tires are more likely to fail. This type of blowout directly caused 223 deaths between 2009 and 2013.
Exploding tires are extremely dangerous. At high speeds, shrapnel from a blowout has enough force to decapitate a driver, and truck drivers are aware of the problem. Robert Allen has over fourteen years of experience as a big rig driver. In a post he wrote for Real Truck Driver Blog, he said, “I have had no doubt that in some circumstances that a tire blowout from a big rig could kill someone… There has been