Why are Truck Tire Blowouts So Dangerous?October 19, 2020
There is no question that truck accidents are some of the most devastating and destructive accidents, and that it is often the occupants of the passenger vehicles who suffer the most serious injuries and property damage. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include distracted driving, drowsy driving, and speeding. However, although less common, tire blowouts are responsible for a significant number of fatal truck accidents. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 16,000 people who are fatally injured each year in truck accidents, truck tire blowouts account for roughly 200 fatal accidents. Fortunately, many of these accidents can be prevented if truck drivers take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure that their tires are properly maintained. If a motorist is injured in a truck accident caused by a tire blowout, a skilled truck accident lawyer will closely review the details of the accident and recommend the best legal course of action.
Anything that can cause a truck driver to lose control of his or her vehicle can seriously endanger the driver, as well as the other motorists in the vicinity. Considering the fact that there are approximately 12 million trucks travelling on roads and highways across the United States on any given day, and large commercial trucks can have up to 18 wheels, that means that there are a staggering 216 million wheels that have the potential to cause a blowout if the truck driver does not take the appropriate safety precautions necessary to prevent these dangerous accidents.
What Causes Tire Blowouts?
There are certainly instances when a tire blowout may be caused by an accidental road hazard, pothole, or some other factor that is beyond the truck driver’s control. However, most of these accidents are caused by some type of error or oversight that could have been prevented. The following are examples of common causes of truck tire blowouts:
- Improper inflation. An overinflated tire can cause the center of the tread to wear down more quickly. An underinflated tire can cause the sides of the tread to wear down more quickly. Both can cause the tire to become more susceptible to blowouts. Truck drivers also can maintain control of the truck more easily when the tires are inflated properly.
- Tire installation error. If a tire has not been installed properly, it can rub, wobble, or cause dangerous wear and tear. In extreme cases, the tire can come loose from the truck or trailer.
- Incorrect tires. Mismatched tires, or tires that are not the correct size, can increase the risk for a tire blowout. In addition to being the right size, the tires must be fitted correctly.
- Defective tires. In some cases, the tire may have a defect that can increase the chances of bead failures, sidewall zipper failures, tread separations, and tire shedding. This is more likely to happen when a truck with defective tires is driven on roads that are bumpy or that have potholes.
- Improper braking. Applying the brakes too often or riding the brakes when driving down a steep hill can increase the risk of a tire blowout because it causes the tread to wear down. When driving down steep hills, truck drivers should shift to a lower gear instead of applying the brakes.
- Manufacturing flaw. In some cases, manufacturers sell tires that do not meet the specifications of quality control.
- Overloaded trailer. If the truck or trailer is overloaded with cargo and the maximum weight is exceeded, the added pressure can cause a tire to explode. If a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a large truck that is carrying thousands of pounds of cargo, it can have devastating consequences for the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
- Improper maintenance. Routine maintenance of large trucks is crucial, particularly considering how many miles they travel in a week. Unfortunately, to save time and money, some truck companies do not perform the necessary maintenance on their fleet, including ensuring that all the trucks’ tires are checked and maintained.
- Driver error. Drivers are responsible for ensuring that their tires have been inspected and maintained, and that they do not drive in a way that causes damage to the tires, such as cutting a corner too close or driving off the road.
- This is one of the most common causes of truck accidents, but when speeding is combined with overinflated or underinflated tires, it can become deadly if the truck is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle. Too often, truck drivers exceed the speed limit without realizing that their tires are overinflated or underinflated.
What Types of Accidents can Tire Blowouts Cause?
Tire blowouts can cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck, resulting in a devastating accident. The following are the most common types of truck accidents can occur from a tire blowout:
- This occurs when a large truck rolls over on its side or upside down. A tire blowout can throw off the truck’s center of gravity, making it more vulnerable to tipping over.
- Falling cargo. If cargo is not properly installed, it can come loose, fall out of the truck, and strike other motorists in the vicinity. Accidents can also occur from motorists swerving into other lanes to avoid the cargo.
- Rear-end collisions. When a truck driver loses control of the truck as a result of a tire blowout, he or she may rear-end another vehicle from behind.
- Head-on collisions. These are by far the most serious type of truck accident, often resulting in severe injuries and fatalities.
What Types of Injuries can Tire Blowouts Cause?
Owing to the massive size and weight of the average commercial truck, tire blowout accidents can cause serious injuries and fatalities. The following are examples of common truck accident injuries:
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Emotional trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
What Steps Should a Truck Driver Take If a Tire Blowout Occurs?
Although truck tire blowouts tend to happen suddenly and with little to warning, truck drivers should be prepared to handle a tire blowout in order to avoid panicking. Truck drivers should take the following steps immediately following a tire blowout:
- Remain calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse and endanger other motorists in the vicinity.
- Maintain control of the truck. It is crucial that the truck driver continue moving in the direction it is heading rather than attempt to quickly slow down or move off the road.
- Slowly reduce speed. Once the truck driver has maintained control of the truck, he or she should slowly ease their foot off the gas and slowly start to slow down by tapping the brakes a few times. Drivers should avoid hard braking, as this can cause the driver to lose control of the truck.
- Pull off the road. Drivers should pull the truck over to a safe spot where the blown tire is facing away from traffic if possible.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident Caused by a Tire Blowout?
Determining who is liable for a truck accident that is caused by a tire blowout will depend on a number of factors, including whether the truck driver failed to properly maintain the truck’s tires, and if there was a manufacturing defect. The following are examples of parties who may be held liable for any property damage or injuries caused by a truck accident:
- Truck driver. Part of a truck driver’s job is to ensure that the tires are inspected daily, adjust the tire pressure if necessary, and replace tires if the treads have become worn down. In addition, he or she must follow the rules of the road and avoid speeding, riding the brakes, or any other driving behavior that could increase the risk of a tire blowout.
- Trucking company. The truck company also has a responsibility to ensure that its fleet meets the safety standards, including regularly inspecting and maintaining the trucks’ tires. A failure to do this increases the risk of tire blowouts, and the trucking company may be held liable.
- Manufacturing company. If there is a defect in the tire, including tire tread separation, tread and steel belt separation, tires that do not properly show tread wear, and an improper puncture repair, the manufacturing company may be held liable for any injuries or property damage caused by a tire blowout accident.
- Maintenance company. In some cases, drivers and truck companies may outsource the maintenance of the vehicles to a maintenance company. These companies are responsible for ensuring that the trucks meet all the maintenance requirements, including proper tire pressure.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Tire Blowout Accidents
If you were injured in a tire blowout accident involving a large truck, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. Our dedicated legal team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.