Imagine you and your family are driving down Interstate 5 when you notice that the tire of a large truck in an adjacent lane blows out. The blow out causes the truck driver to lose control of the hulking motor vehicle which proceeds to swerve into your lane. Before you can react and change lanes, traveling at 75 MPH, your car crashes into the back of the truck.
While this scenario is fictional, according to two recent investigations, the likelihood of it actually occurring is quite high. Investigations conducted by both the Associated Press and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration indicate that the tires with which large commercial trucks are outfitted simply aren’t able to safely sustain the speeds at which many trucks are traveling.
Currently, a total of 14 states have passed laws increasing state speed limits to between 75 to 85 MPH. While it can be argued whether or not it’s truly safe for any driver or vehicle to travel at these high rates of speed, it’s especially concerning with regard to commercial trucks.
Research indicates that a commercial vehicle traveling at high speeds causes so much friction and heat to build that a tire is much more likely to blow out. While, to date, the NHTSA contends there haven’t been any injuries related to these types of speed-induced truck tire blow outs, the agency is calling for action to prevent any such injuries or fatalities from occurring.
The NHTSA has proposed installing devices in commercial trucks that would prevent trucks from reaching speeds in excess of 75 MPH. However, the measure has languished for years in bureaucratic morass.
Source: AP, “Safety chief wants to cap big rig speeds to fix tire problem,” Meghan Barr and Tom Krisher, April 9, 2015