Why Are Truck Tire Blowouts So Dangerous?

defective tire

If you have ever seen frayed tire fragments along the side of the road, you have seen the aftermath of a tire blowout. Tires that are worn out, underinflated, or defective can explode suddenly, causing the vehicle to become unstable and potentially cause an accident. In average-size passenger vehicles, blowouts are dangerous.

However, in an imposing, multi-ton commercial truck, a blowout can be deadly to the trucker and everyone on the road around them. In 2017 alone, it was reported that 738 fatal motor vehicle deaths involved tire-related truck accidents. This discussion explores the common causes of truck tire blowouts, what drivers should do if they witness a truck accident, and blowout prevention tips for drivers in all types of vehicles.

What Causes Truck Tire Blowouts?

Truck manufacturers, trucking fleet owners, and the drivers themselves all play a part in truck maintenance and safety. Any safety oversight or cut corner can cause a serious malfunction. The average-size fully loaded semi-truck weighs in at around 80,000 pounds. If a tire blowout causes this imposing vehicle to lose control, even for just a few seconds, the results can be deadly.

Here are some of the common reasons why truck tires fail:

Heat. Many truckers refer to the time between mid-May and early-October as “tire blowout season.” That is because elevated temperatures and hot asphalt cause an increase in air pressure that can make truck tires more likely to blow out.

Leaks. Tires that are in good condition and relatively new can still explode. Sometimes the cause is a small but persistent leak caused by running over a sharp object. You may have a leak if your tire loses pounds per square inch (psi) more rapidly than usual.

Overloading. The gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is the maximum permissible weight for a truck and trailer combination. That includes the weight of the truck, trailer, and cargo on board. These limits exist for a reason. When a truck is overloaded or improperly loaded, braking, steering, maneuverability, and acceleration are impacted.

Most importantly, an overloaded tractor trailer needs more distance to come to a stop. Truck drivers may misjudge their situation and not stop in time, causing a rear-end collision with a pedestrian or vehicle in their path.

Underinflation. Underinflated tires are more likely to become overheated, which increases the risk of sudden failure. It is estimated that four out of five tire blowouts happen because of underinflated tires. Truck drivers should refer to manufacturer’s load and inflation tables and check tires at least once a month to ensure they are properly inflated.

Improper braking. Commercial truck drivers, and all other drivers, have a duty to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. That includes adjusting driving for weather and road conditions. There is correlation between braking practices and tire integrity.

Excessive braking can cause tire tread to break down quickly and make tires more prone to blowouts. To ease hard braking on steep declines, truck operators should shift down to the lowest gear to reduce wear and tear on brakes, and on tires.

Mechanical issues. Problems with truck systems and equipment can lead to premature wear and tear. A truck with a bent axle, loose wheel bearings, or misalignment, for example, may put added pressure on tires until they eventually blow out.

Poor maintenance. Routine and comprehensive maintenance is one key to preventing many of the mechanical issues mentioned above. Preventative inspections identify mechanical problems before trucks hit the highway. Checking for leaks, tears, air pressure, and tread is the best way to prevent blowouts.

Potholes and road hazards. Blowouts are not always caused by problems with the semis, but with the road conditions they travel. Potholes are caused by the freeze-and-thaw cycles that occur with changing temperatures in many parts of the country, including Maryland. If they go unrepaired, potholes gradually grow larger.

A truck tire that drops into a pothole can lose pressure suddenly and explode or become punctured by sharp edges of broken-up asphalt around the pothole. Broken glass, metal, and other debris can also damage tires and cause dangerous blowouts.

Defective tires. Some tires have design flaws or manufacturing problems that make them inherently dangerous. Product defects are not uncommon. That is why there are product recalls to protect the public and avoid preventable accidents and injuries. Tire manufacturers, designers, and marketers can be held liable for damages if someone is harmed by their product.

What Should a Truck Driver Do if a Tire Blowout Occurs?

Commercial truck drivers must pass a road skills text and driving examination and a knowledge examination to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Part of a truck driver’s training includes steps to take in the event of a blowout. A tire explosion is a frightening experience, and drivers in all types of vehicles would benefit from reviewing what to do after a blowout.

Remain calm. Keep your composure. It is normal to feel panicked or scared, but your ability to stay calm can potentially prevent a serious collision.

Keep control. Try to keep control of your vehicle as much as possible. Keep steering in the direction you are traveling. Do not attempt to veer suddenly onto the shoulder. Also, avoid hard braking. It is important for the truck to keep moving temporarily to maintain control.

Gradually reduce speed. Once you have the vehicle under control, you should start slowly easing off the gas pedal. Gently apply the brakes to slow the truck down safely.

Pull off the road. Once the truck has slowed down, you can pull over safely on the side of the road. If possible, pull over with the damaged tire facing away from traffic. Now, take a few deep breaths and proceed with replacing the tire.

Do not attempt to retrieve tire fragments in the roadway. Instead, call 911 and wait for assistance. Local authorities can safely stop and reroute traffic while the road is cleared.

Consequences of Tire Blowout Accidents

When a truck tire explodes, blowout accidents can occur in several ways. If the truck operator is unable to control their rig, it can overturn or swerve and collide with other vehicles, structures, or pedestrians. This can cause other drivers to panic and lead to multi-vehicle car accidents. Cargo can become loose and spill out onto the roadway, causing hazards for other moving vehicles.

Truck Accident Claims: What You Need to Know

Someone who is injured in a traffic accident involving a commercial truck may have recourse to file a claim for monetary damages. However, truck accident cases are particularly complex because they involve multiple parties, including the truck driver, loader, manufacturer, and fleet owner.

To determine how to approach an accident claim, a lawyer experienced in personal injury cases representing the injured client looks at police records, medical reports, tire inspections and maintenance records, and testimony from tire manufacturer and maintenance experts. Individuals harmed in serious truck accidents can recover compensation for their injures, medical costs, property damage, and other losses.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Recover from a Collision with a Truck

Because commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than smaller passenger vehicles, they are more likely to cause serious and fatal injuries in a collision. If you or a loved one is dealing with life-changing injuries from a truck accident, reach out to the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.