Tractor-trailers can be seen on the nation’s roads at all times. Whether you are driving early in the morning or late at night, you will probably see several trucks during this time. More often than not, you have likely noticed a truck driver going over 75 mph, whether with the flow of traffic or not. However, what is most concerning is that most big rig tires are not designed to handle such speeds, often leading to dangerous tire blowouts and truck accidents.
States Raise Speed Limits & Fail to Address Safety Standards
While a majority of tires have been built to only sustain speeds of 65 or 70 mph, the temptation to go faster is increasing as many states west of the Mississippi River have actually raised highway speed limits to 75, 80, and even 85 mph. This includes Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and many others.
Some believe that this dangerous move was done without consulting with experts in the tire industry, as knowing that tire blowouts commonly occur above 75 mph should have discouraged such actions. Both safety advocates and tire experts argue that continually driving at speeds higher than the tire is rated to handle can create excessive heat that damages the rubber, potentially leading to dangerous blowouts.
Is there a disconnect with roadway safety and speed limits?
After a government document was discovered that detailed an investigation on truck tire failures, the Associated Press quickly pointed out that there was a disconnect between the states raising speed limits and the information that experts had on the prevalence of blowouts at such speeds.
What did the states have to say about their decision to increase the limits? They either disregarded the tire safety ratings and warnings, refused to answer questions, or commented that they were unaware of such ratings. This indicates that many were simply unaware and uniformed about such a serious issue.
While states have the power to control speed limits, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the power to raise tire standards. However, NHTSA believes that the best way to prevent blowouts is not improved tire standards, but regulation through devices that prevent truck drivers from going over 75 mph. Unfortunately, this measure has been stalled for years and is still not approved. The good news is that many truck companies and operators are already beginning to implement similar devices. This points back to the idea that many believe will resolve the issue: truck drivers must be responsible for their speeds. These drivers should be aware of the limitations on their vehicle and tires and make sure they are complying with those safety standards, regardless of posted speed limits.
Still, raising the speed limits only tempts truck drivers to go faster than they should, even when it may be legal. It seems that both states and drivers should be prepared to own up to their responsibility if accidents occur.