In February 2015, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) closed an investigation involving blowouts purportedly caused by certain Michelin tires. The findings determined that truck operators were at fault, not the tires.
An investigator in the report stated that exceeding the 75 mph rating was the most likely cause in all 16 complaints examined. Most tires on commercial trucks cannot withstand speeds of over 75 mph, yet many states are raising speed limits to over 80 mph without consideration for truck speed standards. The blowouts resulted in three crashes but no injuries.
According to the president of an automobile hauling company near San Diego, Michelin tire failures are responsible for $20,000-$30,000 in damages to company vehicles. Lethal accidents in the trucking industry caused by tire failures have been on the rise since 2009, with 223 deaths in 198 crashes, according to a NHTSA report. States are solely responsible for making decisions regarding speed limits, while NHTSA is responsible for tire standards. State Transportation Department representatives have stated that they were largely unaware of tire safety standards when determining speed limits, and that they were reliant upon drivers being knowledgeable of tire speed restrictions.
There is a clear lack of communication, and an abundance of finger pointing. The American Trucking Association is opposed to the speed limit being over 65 mph, and is putting liability on individual State governing bodies Both NHTSA and Michelin are placing liability on truck drivers, claiming that it is up to drivers to be aware of harmful driving practices. In the wake of the Michelin investigation, NHTSA conducted another investigation with truck companies in Pennsylvania, finding that 60% of drivers did not have a comprehensive knowledge of proper tire care. The American Trucking Association has proposed a rule requiring all trucks to be rigged with a device that will prevent vehicles from going over 75 mph. Sixty-nine per cent of companies already have devices on some of their vehicles, yet it still remains optional, and government review of the new policy could take years to be approved.
Slack & Davis’ product liability attorneys can help if you or a family member has suffered injury or death as the result of a truck wreck. If you have questions, or would like to speak to one of Slack & Davis’ product liability attorneys, call Slack & Davis today.