Tire blowouts are dangerous for all drivers, especially those who are on the freeway and traveling at high speeds. However, tractor-trailer tire blowouts are especially dangerous due to the sheer size of commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, truck accidents caused by blown tires occur at an alarming rate and in many cases, could have been prevented through maintenance and regular inspections. Drivers and trucking companies are required by federal law to ensure that tires are regularly inspected, so when a driver fails to comply with these requirements and causes an accident, both the driver and even the trucking company can be held liable for resulting injuries.
Causes of Tire Failure
When industrial tires blow, the amount of air pressure released combined with the weight of the truck can cause a truck to veer off course and into nearby vehicles. In some cases, the rubber and other tire parts can even fly off and hit a passerby, which can have devastating consequences. The most common causes of tire failure on large commercial trucks include:
- Defective tires;
- Poor maintenance; and
- Failure to inspect tires prior to beginning a trip.
- Truck drivers are required to inspect their tires regularly to ensure that:
- No ply or belt material is exposed through the tread or sidewall;
- There is no tread or sidewall separation;
- None of the tires are flat or have an audible leak; and
- None of the tires have any cuts that are large enough to expose ply or belt material.
Drivers are also prohibited from overloading their trucks, which can put excessive pressure on tires and cause blowouts. Finally, drivers and truck companies must make sure that the correct tires have been placed on their trucks and that all tires meet the minimum tread depth requirement. Blowouts are much more likely to occur if a semi-truck has mismatched tires.
When a tire itself is defective, it may be the subject of a recall. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the driver and the trucking company to make sure that the defective tires are replaced. However, if the tires were not recalled, the tire manufacturer can be held liable for resulting injuries.
The Consequences of Tire Blowouts
Some semi-trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded with cargo. For this reason, accidents involving big rigs are usually much more serious than accidents that only involve standard passenger vehicles. Because the trucks are so large, semi-truck accidents often cause multi-car pile-ups, which are notorious for resulting in serious and even deadly injuries, which is largely due to the number of impacts suffered by occupants. A blown tire can also cause a truck driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, which can then jackknife across several lanes of traffic, striking multiple vehicles. Treating the kinds of injuries sustained in truck accidents can be prohibitively expensive, making it especially important for injured parties to collect compensation from the at-fault parties.