Recently, we reported on the tragic Greyhound bus accident in New Mexico that claimed the lives of 9 people and injured dozens more. The accident was caused after a semi-truck experienced a tire blowout that sent the vehicle swerving into oncoming traffic. In a comprehensive study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 8,000 fatal accidents were caused between 2001 and 2003 by a tire blowout. This means that proper tire maintenance doesn’t just save money—it saves lives.
Trucks travel hundreds of miles each day and carry heavy loads that wear tires down at rapid rates. This means that daily tire inspections are a responsibility of truckers. Truckers should inspect tires for the following issues:
- Foreign Objects
- Road Damage
The presence of any of these factors represents an immediate danger to every person on the road. When any of these factors are present, it is not a matter of if a blowout will occur, it is a matter of when. Tire blowouts occur from the following:
- Heavy loads
- Hot conditions
- Improper maintenance and wear over time
Tire Inflation and Wheels
Proper inflation is key to tire safety. When a tire is properly inflated, it can retain its rigid structural strength with greater ease as it travels over rough and uneven roads. Additionally, proper inflation helps increase fuel efficiency for your truck. Wheel integrity is crucial to a tire’s function. If improper or mismatched parts are used on a wheel, the results can be a catastrophic tire failure and blowouts.
Overloading and Speeding
When a truck is overloaded, the wheels can experience a dangerous amount of heat which leads to a blowout. Additionally, underinflation compounds this problem and makes a dangerous event even more likely. When a truck speeds, it places everyone on the road at risk. Trucks are heavy and hard to stop. However, speeding increases wear and contribute to blowouts that can cause a vehicle that is already difficult to control become completely unwieldy. By avoiding speeding, truck drivers potentially save their own lives as well as the lives they share the road with.