One of the most frightening experiences for a driver on the highway is witnessing a semi truck blowing out a tire. Aside from the sudden gun shot-like bang, the 40 ton truck may start to swerve across the road causing serious injury and damage to vehicles in its path.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, more than 78,000 crashes including 400 deaths occur each year due to flat tires or blowouts. If you find yourself included in these statistics, it’s important to understand who is responsible and who can help you. This article will help answer these questions.
What is a tire blowout?
A truck tire “blowout” typically refers to the instance when a tire suddenly bursts and rapidly loses pressure. As the pressure quickly decreases, the truck becomes off balance causing the driver to compensate and often lose control of the vehicle. While most people expect these blowouts to happen when there is too much pressure in the tire (think of overinflating a balloon, for example), it’s actually the opposite.
When a large tire such as those on a semi truck has low tire pressure, the rubber, steel and fabric that make up the tire begin to flex. Under the intense forces of highway driving, these components continue to flex until they can no longer withstand the stress and break, causing the tire to explode, or blowout. As you may expect, the stress put on an underinflated tire increases as the temperature on the highway intensifies. Accordingly, many safety experts refer to the summer months as “tire blowout season”.
What are common causes?
As the tire blowout rate on semi trucks continue to increase on highways across the country, knowing the common causes of these potentially catastrophic incidents is important. Below are 4 of the most common causes of blowouts drivers on the road face.
- Inadequate Tire Inflation
As discussed above, tire blowouts typically occur when tires are underinflated. If trucks begin their journey with improper tire inflation, the chances of a blowout occurring increase significantly.
- Roadway Hazards
Tires are made up of many parts, including rubber, steel and different fibers. While these materials can withstand a significant amount of stress, potholes, uneven pavement or other roadway debris can overload the stress on the tire, causing it to suddenly burst.
- Maintenance Issues
Maintenance obligations on semi trucks are serious business. Trucking companies and the drivers themselves must ensure the truck is safe to drive and safe to be put on the road with thousands of other drivers. Not properly maintaining each tire on a semi truck puts drivers in danger each time they hit the road.
- Overloaded Trailer
A loaded trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This extreme weight puts significant pressure on a semi trucks tires and brakes, often causing them to fail without any warning. When trailers are overloaded, the chances of tires not being able to withstand the load increases, as does the frequency of tire blowouts.
Who is liable?
As you can see, truck tire blowouts can occur from a number of different reasons. While some causes are from unpreventable accidents, others may result from negligence by either the truck driver or the trucking company. Often it can be difficult to discern exactly who is responsible for injury caused by a truck tire blowout. In these cases, it’s crucial to engage a qualified personal injury attorney to help assess the situation and determine the appropriate responsible parties.
In addition to determining who is liable, understanding negligence laws as well as joint and several liability under North Carolina law is also crucial to being fully compensated for your injuries. North Carolina follows the legal principle of contributory negligence. Under this principle, the law prohibits injured victims from recovering any compensation if their actions contributed to the crash–even if the other driver was 99% at fault.
Tire blowouts from semi trucks continue to increase in frequency across the country. These can often be come of the most frightening and serious accidents experienced by drivers. If you or a loved one were injured from such an accident, engaging a qualified and experienced truck accident attorney is important to guarantee responsible parties are held accountable, and you or your loved ones are fully compensated.