Whether they’re hauling passengers, hazardous material, or other cargo, there is a lot riding on any commercial vehicle’s tires.
Accidents stemming from the tires on commercial vehicles have federal regulators concerned that not enough is being done to ensure that tires are properly maintained and inspected.
Tire problems caused about 8,000 accidents per year in commercial trucks alone, according to federal transportation data. These accidents account for about 6 percent of all commercial truck accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigations recognizes a number of factors that can compromise tire safety and boost the risk of a potentially deadly accident. Additionally, the agency has worked with industry partners to develop measures that commercial drivers can take to reduce the chances of a blowout or other tire failure.
Every day, commercial drivers should visually examine their vehicle’s tires for irregular wearing on tire treads and inadequate tread depth, cracking, bulges, cuts, foreign objects, and other signs of damage. Any findings should be taken to a mechanic for further inspection and repair or replacement if necessary.
Before each trip, commercial drivers should gauge their tires when they are cold and inflate or deflate if necessary. Improper inflation greatly affects tire wear and fuel efficiency.
Commercial vehicles should only use approved tire and rim combinations of the appropriate width and diameter. Mismatched tire and rim components may result in an exploding tire and cause serious injury or death.
Cargo weight also affects tire safety. Overloaded tires and underinflated tires cause excessive heat buildup and internal structure damage that can lead to tire failure.
Commercial drivers should also be careful not to exceed their tires’ speed rating, as doing so will also promote tire damage, shorten the tire’s life, and potentially result in failure.
Commercial drivers, trucking firms, bus operators, and other commercial motor vehicle operations should also stay up to date on tire safety recalls addressing manufacturing defects or design flaws.