The Dangers of Shredded Semi-Truck Tires on the Interstate

Driving an automobile is an important part of life for most adults. We rely on our cars for almost everything: getting to work, dropping kids off at school, running errands, and taking vacations. But driving comes with a risk. There is always the unfortunate possibility that we will be involved in an accident and sustain personal injuries.

Some of the risks that drivers encounter are more obvious than others. We have talked about obvious dangers in this blog, from intoxicated or distracted drivers to those who speed and violate rules of the road. However, a less obvious risk is that of encountering truck tire debris in the roadway. Not only is the debris dangerous, but a blown tire can create a perilous situation for the truck driver and everyone driving in the near vicinity.

In this article, we will discuss some causes of truck tire debris in the road and the resulting dangers presented to the motoring public.

Truck Tire Blowouts

The truck tire debris on the roadway results from tire blowouts. When a blowout occurs on a big truck traveling at a high rate of speed, the tire can be torn into pieces and flung onto the roadway and nearby vehicles. These blowouts can be caused by a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Road hazards
  • Improper tire inflation pressure maintenance
  • Trailer overloading
  • Mismatched tires
  • Failing steel belts in tires

Many of these causes can result from the negligence of trucking companies and the way they maintain their vehicles. Manufacturing defects in the tires can also cause blowouts. These blowouts create two-pronged dangers.

First, blowouts are sudden and can cause a driver to lose control and cause catastrophic accidents. Second, the road debris created can strike vehicles, cause people to swerve suddenly, and cause accidents.

Retread Tire Debate

Many trucks operate using retread tires. A retread is a used tire that has new tread attached to its original casing through a remanufacturing process.

If you are wondering why retreads are used, it is primarily cost. It should come as no surprise that the huge tires used in trucking are expensive. In fact, tire costs are often the second highest operating cost for a commercial truck fleet, behind only the cost of fuel. Retreads are much cheaper than new tires.

There is also a positive environmental side effect from using retreads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it takes about 22 gallons of oil to create a new truck tire, as opposed to 7 gallons to create a retread.

Because tire tread debris is so visible on interstates, there has been a public perception that retread tires are less safe than new tires. The NHTSA undertook an effort to study this issue and published a Final Report on its Medium Tire Debris Study. (PDF) The study concluded that the proportion of tire debris from retreads fell within industry standards. There had been older studies by others suggesting an overrepresentation of retread tires in tire debris collected. 

Trucking Companies Can Be Held Liable

When trucking companies fail to prudently maintain the tires in their fleets, their negligence can cause accidents. These accidents can cause injury and death. Trucking companies and their drivers can be held liable when their acts of negligence cause harm.

Call with Questions

Automobile accidents happen in more ways than one can imagine. But when they do happen, it’s often quick and over in the blink of an eye. Those who suffer injuries, or lose their loved ones, can be left with medical bills, lost wages, permanent injuries, pain and suffering, and a host of other problems.

At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we know that you are not a lawyer and that you will naturally have many questions about your legal rights. That’s why we stand ready to answer your questions for you. Just give us a call for a free consultation. We help injured clients all across Oregon because we believe that holding negligent people accountable for their actions is the only way to make society safer for everyone.


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