Commercial truck drivers are required to conduct a pre-trip inspection to identify defective or worn tires. Part 396 of the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Act details the required inspections of equipment that must be made before each trip. The driver must be satisfied that the trailer and tractor are in safe operating condition before operating the vehicle. These inspections must be documented by a driver vehicle inspection report. Many states have their own mandatory inspection programs that overlap and at times provide more stringent inspection requirements than the federal government mandates
Part 393 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act details the parts and accessories that are necessary for the safe operation of a commercial truck. The FMSCA provides specific standards for tires that are supposed to be checked as part of a pre-trip inspection. A truck may not be operated with a tire that has body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or the sidewall. A truck may not be driven with any tire that has any tread or sidewall separation. Every tire must be inflated and can’t be operated with an audible leak. Each tire must meet minimum tread depths. The applicable requirements mandate a greater minimum tread depth for tires on the front wheels. The truck driver must make sure that the tires meet the required load and speed restrictions for the planned trip. The failure of a truck company or a driver to comply with these regulations may lead to an accident.
Failing to properly maintain brake systems, improper loading of trailers, improper braking techniques and improperly greased wheel bearings can lead to increased tire wear and failure.
LOSS OF CONTROL DUE TO DEFECTIVE TIRES
Worn Tires cause Truck Accidents
Truck accidents due to defective or improperly maintained tires are preventable. After a serious truck accident an inspection of the tires should be done to determine if the truck crash should have been prevented by a proper pre-trip inspection. Proper tire pressure and tread depth is critical for a truck driver to maintain control when facing adverse conditions such as rain, snow, ice, slush or gravel. Poorly maintained tires could lead to tractor trailers jackknifing, losing control and striking stopped or slowing vehicles. Tires deteriorate quicker with heat and sunlight exposure.
The average cost related to tires for a tractor trailer is about 3 to 4 cents a mile and can exceed $4,000 a year.
PROPER TIRE PRESSURE PREVENTS CRASHES
Underinflated or overinflated tires can lead to deterioration and eventual blowouts.
Low tire pressure can result in increased stopping distances, skidding and loss of control. Stopping distances generally increase with lower tire pressure and hydroplaning also increases with decreased tire pressure. Low tire pressure can lead to tire blowouts. Tire blowouts are associated with rollover crashes. Underinflated tires increase the chances of tripping. Tripping occurs when a vehicle slides and the tires dig into soft ground and the vehicle trips. A severely underinflated tire can result in the rim digging into the roadway as the truck slides to the side rendering a rollover more likely.
Over inflated tires can result in decreased contact between the surface area of the tire and the road. This can negatively impact handling. Also, an overinflated tire can cause an increase in the temperature of the air inside the tire and may even lead to a sudden blowout.
Truck rims that are rusted, damaged, or welded can create safety issues. As a part of the pre-trip, CDL drivers are instructed that rims cannot have excessive rust because corrosion can impair the structural integrity of the wheel. Furthermore, the lug nuts that are not properly tightened, show leaking trails of rust, or have shiny threads on the studs, (indicating that lug nut may have been stripped) risk a wheel failure. It is illegal for the rim of a commercial motor vehicle to be welded back together. However, some parts of the vehicle welds are legal if the company/driver has proper paperwork to certify the weld.
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