The tires on most semi trucks are designed to withstand speeds of no more than 75 miles per hour. Even so, a good number of truckers regularly exceed that speed, leading to blowouts and an increased risk of accident. Should states decrease speed limits, or should tire manufacturers begin making tires that are rated for a higher speed? That question is a topic of much debate on both sides.
Until around a decade ago, most truckers typically drove no faster than 65 or 70 miles per hour. That began to change when several western states began increasing their speed limits to as high as 85 miles per hour in some areas. As the speed limit increased, the speed at which truckers began driving also increased.
Safety analysts claim the problem with increasing the speed limit lies in the fact that semi truck tire limitations were not considered. Speed is not an issue when it comes to passenger car tires, as automobile tires are already manufactured to withstand much higher speeds than what is legally allowed.
Officials in states with higher speed limits claim that raising them doesn’t necessarily result in unsafe conditions, as many big rigs already have governors that limit how fast they can operate. Others claim factors such as over-sized loads, under-inflation and road debris also affect how well tires perform, and that speed plays only a minor role in blowouts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently completed an investigation into Michelin tractor-trailer tires after receiving multiple reports of blowouts. Their investigation showed that in all 16 cases that were looked at, speed was a contributing factor and not faulty tire design. Out of those 16 cases, there were three ensuing crashes, none of which resulted in injury.
The NHTSA recognizes that there is a disconnect between tire manufacturers and the state lawmakers responsible for setting speed limits. Their proposed solution would be to make it mandatory for semi trucks to have a device installed that would prevent drivers from operating faster than 75 miles per hour. It may be some time before this solution is put into practice, as it is currently undergoing a series of reviews.
Regardless of whether it is due to faulty design or excessive speed, big rig blowouts can result in injury or even death. If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck blowout, please contact an Orlando Truck Accident lawyer at our firm for a complimentary review of your case. You can reach us by calling 800 360.7015 or by filling out our free case evaluation form.