The number of semitrailers on the road has risen in recent years. In fact, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s count of registered trucks across the country has grown from 8.2 million in 2004 to 10.6 million in 2013. Of course, with the rise in the number of trucks there are on the road, there has also been a rise in the number of accidents.
Indeed, between 2009 and 2013, heavy trucks and buses caused a whopping 14,000 fatal accidents. From 2011 to 2012, the number of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased by four percent, from 3,781 in 2011 to 3,921 in 2012. Fatalities in these crashes showed a five percent increase in the number of occupants of other vehicles killed and a nine percent increase in the number of large-truck occupants killed. While the rising number of trucks on the road naturally might lead to more accidents, other factors may also be to blame.
Another cause for the uptick in accidents may be related to the tires on these big rigs. These tires are not meant to withstand maximum continuous speeds over 75 mph. In fact, NHTSA has determined that no truck tire is rated for more than 81 mph; most are rated at 75 mph. However, due to increased speed limits—16 states have speed limits equal to or greater than 75 miles per hour and four have speed limits at 80 mph—truckers regularly exceed the tire rating limit.
Driving trucks with worn tires at high speeds is a recipe for disaster. A common result of this type of driving is tire blowouts, and a tire blowout on a big rig can be quite the danger. NHTSA recently investigated the cause of multiple Michelin tire blowouts and did find that high speeds and a lack of maintenance were to blame. The summertime months add an increased danger to the potential for worn tires as high temperatures can also increase stress and wear. In addition to causing collisions, blown truck tires sometimes remain on the highway, creating a hazard for other drivers. (It is worth noting that big rig semitrailers are not the only culprits. Recreational vehicles, boat trailers, and other large automobiles can suffer similar problems, leading to dangerous conditions on the roadways.)
Industry groups, such as the American Trucking Association (ATA) have been warning of the dangers of high speed trucking for years. Why don’t truckers simply slow down, and drive under the speed limit? Truckers may push limits of their vehicles due to economic pressures. However, that choice can have a domino effect, when driving at high rates of speeds put pressure on their tires, which increases the likelihood of blowouts and collisions, which leads to injuries and even deaths.
Most semi truck drivers are responsible professionals. However, if you come across a big rig that is driving at excessive speeds, report it to law enforcement. In addition, many semi trailers have toll free numbers listed to report their driving. If you come to a stop and can safely transcribe the number, contact the carrier to report any apparent problems with tires, speeding by the driver, or other hazardous activities related to the vehicle. In doing so, you may protect yourself and help to prevent injury to others.
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence in a big rig crash or any other type of collision, call the skilled attorneys at Brooks Law Group today. We can help determine whether you are entitled to any compensation.