Report reveals risk of Texas truck crashes involving tire blowouts

Tire blowouts are more likely when large trucks travel faster than 75 mph. This risk may be pronounced in Texas, given the state’s high speed limits.

Large truck accidents take a heavy toll on public safety in Bellaire. In 2014 alone, large trucks and other commercial vehicles were involved in 33,061 reported crashes in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. In 1,155 of these crashes, incapacitating injuries were reported, and in 508 cases, victims suffered fatal injuries.

These crashes may occur for various reasons, including road conditions, poor vehicle maintenance and truck driver negligence. However, new research suggests that people in Texas face an especially high risk of these accidents because of the state's speed limits. The current maximum limit exceeds the speed that truck tires are designed to handle, which may raise the risk of blowouts and crashes.

Tires not build for modern speeds

The Dallas Morning News explains that, for more than a decade, the majority of truck tires have been designed to withstand a top speed of 75 mph. This represented a reasonable limit in the past, when most states enforced maximum speed limits of 65 and 70 mph. Today, though, several states allow drivers to legally travel at speeds over 75 mph. Here in Texas, trucks can travel at 80 mph or even 85 mph on select roadways.

These high speed limits can contribute to blowouts because friction between the tires and road generates heat, which damages the tires. A recent investigation revealed that the risk of speed-related blowouts is not just hypothetical. The Dallas Morning News reports the following facts about the investigation:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked into 16 complaints about truck tires from Michelin blowing out. In three of these complaints, crashes resulted from the blowouts.
  • The investigators concluded that flaws in the design or production of the tires were not responsible for the crashes.
  • In every complaint, investigators attributed the blowouts to drivers exceeding speeds of 75 mph.

Compared to other accident risk factors, blowouts cause a relatively small number of known fatal accidents. In 2013, large truck crashes that involved tire issues claimed 52 lives across the U.S. Still, these accidents may result in many more injuries, and the risk may be especially high in states such as Texas.

Potential preventative measures

A few measures could help reduce the risk of these accidents. Manufacturers could design tires that can safely operate at modern speed limits. However, producers have worried that market demand doesn't justify a new line of tires. Speed-limiting devices could be another potential solution, since many trucking companies already use these devices. Someday, federal regulations could require companies to use these devices to prevent trucks from reaching speeds that make blowouts likely.

More widespread use of speed-limiting devices could be especially beneficial, as this measure could also help reduce the risk of serious accidents. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes, vehicles traveling at higher speeds are less likely to avoid accidents. They are also more likely to cause serious damage or injury in the event of a crash.

Unfortunately, either proposed solution could take months or years to implement. As a result, motorists in Texas may continue facing a high risk of preventable accidents.

Recourse for needless accidents

When truck drivers ignore known dangers or violate industry regulations, the risk of accidents and harm to others increases. In some cases, the victims of these accidents may be able to seek compensation for their wrongful injuries. The advice of a personal injury attorney may be invaluable for anyone who has been harmed in a truck accident and believes negligence played a role.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury