While the dangers of winter driving may be behind us, the hot summer months ahead have their own dangers. Depending on the climate, the time between mid-May and early October is when drivers will be seeing more and more treads lining the interstates.
Tire blowouts are one of the most dangerous occurrences for drivers of both commercial and personal vehicles and have serious consequences, such as damaged loads, damaged rigs, and injury or death to the driver or others on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck tire blowouts were accountable for 200 crashes and 223 fatalities between the years 2009-2013. Blowouts can result in tire debris or driver loss of control, which can cause dangerous situations for all of those around.
To address the dangers, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CVSA) will be placing a special emphasis on tire safety during its 2016 International Road Check occurring June 7-9, 2016, a time in which over 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections. CVSA inspectors will be reviewing vehicles for flats, leaks, treads, and other damage. Many of these inspection areas can be easily detected by drivers before hitting the road and problems can be prevented through regular audits and preventative maintenance.
Refresher: Completing a Pre-Trip Inspection
A driver’s pre‐trip inspection combined with standard industry maintenance and operational practices should prevent nearly all tire violations. Some of the most common out-of-service (OOS) tire violations are those which are easily diagnosable.
Drivers should look for the following during their inspection:
- Air Pressure and Leaks: Too much or too little air pressure, as well as cuts to the tire, are the most common tire-related OOS violations. Another top OOS violation relating to flat tires is a tire with an audible air leak (393.75(a)(3)), or fabric exposed (393.75(A)). Check tire pressure when the tire is cold for best results.
- Tread Wear: You need at least 4/32-inch tread depth in every major groove on front wheels (steer tires) and 2/32-inch depth on other tires. A tire with low tread depth is more susceptible to blowing out if a driver was to hit road debris. Tire tread depth less than 2/32 of an inch (393.75(c)), and front tire tread wear less than 4/32 of an inch (393.75(b)) are other commonly cited OOS violations. Uneven wear is another concern, as it could be a sign of improper air pressure.
- Valve Caps and Stems: Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require truck tires to have valve caps on at all times. Tires can lose air and pressure if a valve cap is loose or faulty.
- Exposed Steel Belt: Another commonly cited violation is either an exposed belt or ply (393.75(a)(1)) or a cut in the tire exposing ply or belt (393.75(a)(4)). Both are signs that a tire is worn beyond its useful life, and any bump or change could result in a blowout.
- Lodged Objects: If you hit or run over a big piece of road debris, don’t just keep driving. Find a good place to pull over and check to see if any damage has occurred. Also, before driving, take a look between dual tires to see if there’s anything wrong, such as obstructions or foreign objects.
On the Road
Don’t Overload Your Truck
A truck and its tires are designed to operate safely up to specific load limits. These limits are shown in the vehicle’s owner’s manual and should not be exceeded. Increased weight can lead to extra stress on a tire and when combined with hot summer temperatures, can lead to tire failure.
Driving too fast for a tire’s rated speed is not only inefficient, it’s dangerous.
The NHTSA recently closed an investigation into blowouts involving certain tires and determined that truck operators were the ones at fault. Driving consistently at speeds exceeding your tires’ rated speed, when combined with over- or under-inflation, can generate excessive heat, leading to an increased risk of a blowout.
In addition, driving at high speeds minimizes the reaction time to adjust to road hazards like potholes, roadkill, or debris, which are other major causes for blowouts.
Beware of Potholes
Due to the freeze-thaw cycle of winter, the Northeast is no stranger to potholes which harm the structural integrity of the road for drivers. According to The Road Information Program (TRIP), some of the most poorly rated urban roads are in Connecticut (New Haven: 45% rated poor, Bridgeport—Stamford: 44% rated poor, Hartford: 37% rated poor).
On non-Interstate highways, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire are all among the states with the highest percentage of roads rated ‘poor,’ according to TRIP data.
To minimize damage to your rig, slow down before the pothole, hit the pothole straight on, avoid swerving, and roll through the pothole as opposed to braking rapidly. After hitting a pothole, inspect your vehicle at your next stop for any signs of damage.
Stay Safe this Summer
With National Tire Safety Week running May 29-June 4, 2016, and the 2016 International Road Check on June 7-9, 2016, it is important to remember the importance of safety on the road at all times.
Disclaimer: Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. Our safety inspections and recommendations relate to underwriting concerns and do not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. We make no representation or warranty that our activities will place you in compliance with the law or that your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss control recommendations. You are not entitled to rely upon any loss control activities provided by us, and you may not delegate any of your legal responsibilities to us.
Sources: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Tire‐Related Violations from Calendar Year 2015 in the United States. Retrieved from CVSA: http://cvsa.org/programs/documents/roadcheck2016/Top-Tire-Related-Violations.pdf
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Tire-Related Factors in the Pre-Crash Phase. Retrieved from NHTSA: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811617.pdf
The Road Information Program. Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother. Retrieved from TRIP: http://www.tripnet.org/docs/Urban_Roads_TRIP_Report_July_2015.pdf
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.