Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Truckers Often Drive At Speeds Their Tires Can't Handle

By Mark J. Caruso, Attorney

When was the last time that you were driving 70 mph on a New Mexico highway and were passed by a tractor trailer  going 75-85 mph?   The windblast of the tractor trailer may have  blown your car a little off course as it passed by.   It's probably happened more frequently than you want.

Beyond the obvious dangers of the semi truck moving at that high speed, there are hidden dangers as well from the  truck's tires on its tractor and trailer.   Most of the  commercial truck tires installed on semi trucks are designed for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph.


Pushing a commercial truck tire above its rated speed is a recipe for disaster.  The constant heat generated from the friction of the tire on the asphalt or cement can cause the tire to break down and fail.  With long hours of travel on the road, it doesn't take long for the commercial truck tire to  heat up and create a dangerous situation .

You have probably seen the remnants of truck tires littering our state's roads.

Excessive speed has been linked to many truck tire blow outs and crashes causing severe injury and death.

According to trucking data maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2013 there were over 14,000 crashes in the United States involving heavy commercial trucks.  These crashes resulted in  16,000 deaths.  Tractor trailer tire failure was a reported factor in almost 200 of those crashes.

The trucking industry has argued that tire blowouts are caused by tire manufacturing problems, citing a high volume of instances with certain tire brand models.  However, investigations performed by NHTSA rejected such allegations.  It concluded that the most likely cause in each instance was "driver error"--that is, semi truck truck drivers pushing the truck and trailer tires beyond their speed ratings.

The trucking industry has also argued that the problem is not "driver error" because states have high speed limits. It is true that 14 states (including New Mexico) currently have highway speed limits of 75 mph or higher.  However,  just because state law permits travel at a specific speed does not mean that it is safe for semi truck drivers to travel at this speed. 

A responsible tractor trailer driver is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations(FMCSR) to know the limits of his/her equipment and is always required to take safety into consideration in operating the tractor trailer.  Further, the FMCSR requires the tractor trailer driver to regularly maintain his/her tractor and trailer, and this includes close inspection of all tires on a regular basis. The driver must check all 18 tires of the 18 wheeler.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an crash with a tractor trailer, semi truck or other commercial vehicle, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney specifically knowledgeable about the handling of complicated truck accidents. Please contact NM Truck Accident Attorneys at 505-883-5000 for a free consultation. Also, see www.NMTruckAccidentAttorneys.com or www.CarusoLaw.com


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