Rick Morrison, who handles tire litigation for our firm, says that one of the most dangerous tires he has seen is the Goodyear G159 RV tire. One of the primary problems with the Goodyear RV tire was that it was not designed to travel at highway speeds. The G159 was designed to tolerate speeds less than 65 mph and once RV owners started to drive their RVs at interstate speeds, the tires started experiencing failures leading to tragic consequences.
Many tractor-trailers on our nation’s highways are driven in excess of the 75 mph their tires are designed to handle. This creates a public hazard that has been linked to wrecks and tire blowouts that cause highway wrecks. Unfortunately, this problem has largely escaped the attention of highway officials.
Most heavy truck tires are designed for a maximum speed of 75 mph. Currently 14 states, mainly west of the Mississippi River, have speed limits of 75 and 80 mph. In parts of Texas, the speed limit is 85 mph. All of this is a recipe for disaster when combined with the tolerance of truck tires.
Safety advocates and tire experts say that habitually driving faster than a tire’s rated speed can generate excessive heat that damages the rubber, with potentially catastrophic results. Rick says he has handled numerous cases where this was the problem.
While even the most basic tires on passenger vehicles can safely tolerate speeds up to 112 mph, the rubber on standard commercial truck tires starts to degrade at or below the speed limits in the “faster” states. Highways also become scorching hot during much of the year in many of the Western states where the higher speed limits appear. Hot asphalt adds further stress to the already overtaxed tires on heavy trucks and elevates the risk of catastrophic blowouts.
Tire manufacturers can produce truck tires that tolerate the higher speed limits at about the same cost as the 75-mph-rated tires, but few do. So as speed limits rise across broad regions of the country, tire manufacturers look the other way rather than produce a product that meets the changing needs.
A report by the Associated Press reveals that “manufacturers are hesitant to make more (of the higher-speed rated tires), fearing sales won’t be big enough to justify the cost of redesigning and retooling.” The tire makers contended many trucking companies already equip their trucks with speed governors to prevent them from driving faster than 75 mph.
Bridgestone, one of the largest producers of commercial truck tires, proposes a nationwide appeal of the higher speed limits to solve the problem, rather than making tires that endure higher speeds. We believe the tire manufacturers have a responsibility to design safer tires.
The combination of increased legal speed limits, truck driver’s habits and the tire industry’s reluctance to provide more robust tires will tragically lead to even more injuries and deaths on our highways. If you want more information, contact Rick Morrison at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rick.Morrison@beasleyallen.com.
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