Trucking companies, safety advocates and others are shedding light on a possible problem with tires used by tractor-trailers, according to a recent Associated Press investigative report.
Many states–particularly those west of the Mississippi River–have enacted speed limits of 75 mph or more. But according to the AP, nearly all truck tires built today are designed to handle a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph, a throwback to the days when truck drivers across the U.S. had to stick to speed limits of 65 or 70 mph.
From 2009 through 2013, tires were a factor in 198 crashes in the U.S involving heavy trucks and buses, according to the NHTSA. Those crashes resulted in 223 deaths.
The AP found that some state governments had not considered, or just disregarded, truck tire speed ratings when raising their speed limits. In some parts of Texas, for example, speed limits reach 80 and 85 mph. The AP reported that the sponsor of the Texas law that allowed the 85 mph limit on a toll road in central Texas was unaware of the speed limitations of typical truck tires.
However, accident investigators say it is difficult to determine with complete certainty the cause of tire-related accidents. Blowouts can be caused by several factors, including road debris, underinflation, heavy loads and exceeding the speed rating of tires.
For many trucking companies, the tire speed-rating may not be a problem, because they understand the safety issue and equip their vehicles with governors to prevent them from exceeding 75 mph.
Understanding the dangers of operating heavy trucks at high speed, the American Trucking Associations industry group has been pushing the federal government for a system to electronically govern trucks to a top speed of 65 mph.
To learn more, check out the AP article at this link and watch the video below: