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Big Rig Tires Not Safe Over 75 MPH


Interesting article on CBS News about the fact that most big-rigs are equipped with tires that are meant to be driven at maximum constant speeds over 75 mph. There are no tires rated in excess of 81 mph. The article throws out a statistic that between 2009 and 2013 heavy trucks and buses were responsible for 14,000 fatal accidents. Of those 14,000 fatalities, 223 were linked to heavy truck tires.

Red big rig truck

Apparently this tire blowout issue is not a problem for 70% of big rigs because their companies limit the trucks to a max speed of 65 mph. Its the remaining 305 which are not limited where the truck tire issue comes to the fore.

Cost Benefit Analysis

In law school students use the Learned Hand Formula when evaluating whether someone has acted negligently. Time out, quick review, negligence is where someone has acted without using reasonable care. Easy example, a person who hits a car has acted negligently whereby she drives while texting on her cell phone. The “reasonable person” would not drive while texting on her cellphone.

Anyways, the Learned Hand Formula is a cost benefit analysis to determine whether someone has acted negligently. It works like this (taken from wikipedia):

If (Burden < Cost of Injury × Probability of occurrence), then the accused will not have met the standard of care required.

If (Burden ≥ Cost of injury × Probability of occurrence), then the accused may have met the standard of care.

Learned Hand Applied to this Truck Tire Issue:

burden = cost of a tire that won’t blow out at speeds in excess of 75 mph. Just doing some quick anecdotal research I’ve found that big rig tires cost around $200 to $400 per tire. If you have an 18 wheeler that’s about $3600 to $7200. So lets say a safer tire might cost $500 to $600, then it would cost between $9000 to $10800 to equip an 18 wheeler.

cost of injury = fatality or serious injury

probability of occurrence = 223 deaths over a four year period due to tire issues or around 56 deaths a year.

So is there negligence to drive on tires rated only to 75 mph. To me I’d say there is, because it costs only around $2-3k dollars to equip a big rig with “safe tires” (assuming my numbers are correct). Particularly if doing so eliminates fatalities or serious injuries.

Something to Think About

Alternatively instead of buying more expensive tires, a truck could restrict its max speed to 65 mph. The cost to get goods as fast as possible seems pretty high, and not worth it. And you might say, “come on man, there were only 223 deaths over a four year period.” True, but what if one of those 223 were your loved one. Would you think differently?

Malek & Malek does not believe that all trucks and truck drivers are unsafe. But we want to get rid of those trucks and trucking companies that choose to violate safety rules, and in doing so cause serious injuries or death. I sincerley hope that you are never involved in a semi-truck, big-rig, or truck crash However if you are the truck accident and Columbus personal injury attorneys at Malek & Malek will endeavor to bring you justice.