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Report: Semi truck tires not designed for high speeds, linked to wrecks

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 14th, 2015

Attorneys litigating semi truck crashes should be kicking the tires

truck losing tire

Speeding is a major factor contributing to traffic crashes across the country. To get some idea of the scope of this problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the annual economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion.

Of course, speeding isn’t limited to semi trucks.  But semi truck tires are not designed for high speeds, and the consequences of truck drivers speeding to get their loads to their destinations quicker can be far more deadly to the public than when passenger cars drive at high speeds. Add to this the greater weight and mass of commercial trucks, and the problem becomes dire.

Recently, the Associated Press reported that a majority of tractor-trailers on the nation’s highways are driven faster than the 75 mph their tires are designed to handle.

From 2009 through 2013, there were just over 14,000 fatal crashes in the U.S. involving heavy trucks and buses, killing almost 16,000 people, according to NHTSA.

Tires were a factor in 198 of those crashes and 223 deaths.

Most truck tires are built for maximum sustained speeds of 75 mph only. Safety advocates and tire experts say that continuously driving faster than a tire’s rated speed can generate excessive heat that damages the rubber, potentially causing catastrophic blowouts.

One positive potential development: To make sure drivers know their tires’ limits, the NHTSA is reportedly considering a requirement that maximum speeds be listed on the sidewalls of all truck tires.

As a truck accident attorney, I’ve helped the families of far too many people who have been tragically killed because of defective tires, or tires that were improperly maintained and blew when the truck was on the road. This report raises an important issue for all attorneys who litigate these cases. In addition to downloading the speed of the truck, the next step is to look at the tires and the causal connection that the tires may have played in any crash.

Finally, check and see if the trucking company or safety director knew or should have known that the truck driver was regularly speeding. If so, there is a viable basis to add an additional count in the complaint for negligent entrustment and negligent supervision.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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