Tire problems are one of the big causes of truck accidents. If you've ever been on the road next to a semi that suddenly peels the tread from a tire, leaving it in the path of your vehicle, you know how dangerous the situation can get. A sudden blowout can also put everyone on the road around the semi at risk. However, is anyone really to blame? Are accidents caused by tire failure really anyone's fault?
The driver and the company may have failed to properly maintain the tires.
The driver and the trucking company both have some responsibility for maintaining the tires on the truck. The driver should never get on the road without performing a general inspection of the truck for any obvious safety issues, including tire problems. Drivers should check tires to see if they're either underinflated or overinflated—either of which can lead to problems.
A tire that's overinflated can simply blow out from the pressure while the truck is on the road and in motion, leading to swerving and instability. Semis can topple from their own shifting weight after a tire blows out if the driver can't get the vehicle under control quickly.
Underinflated tires are also dangerous. Underinflation leads to reduced control—a semi with underinflated tires can't brake or even control the vehicle as well if there's rain, sleet, or snow on the ground. It's such a serious issue that at least one study indicates that vehicles with underinflated tires are 3 times as likely to be in an accident than those with properly inflated tires.
Other issues that should always be checked include the depth of the tread on the tires and making sure that tires are properly mounted on their axles. All tires should be paired with others of similar wear so that the semi isn't put off balance. Tires should also be inspected for sidewall damage (including bulges) before every trip.
The tire company and the retailer that sold the tires may be responsible.
It's also possible that the driver and the company checked everything the way that they were supposed to do, but the tire itself was defective. The internal steel cables could be malformed or weak, and tires could have been sold as new when they were actually re-treads. If a tire's design is relatively new, it could have been rushed to market without adequate safety testing. If other tires of the same model were involved in other accidents, the tire manufacturer and retailer both should have sent out recalls in order to make sure that no unsafe tires were on the road.
If you're in an accident due to a blown tire, a peeled tread, or a semi that lost control because a tire wobbled, don't assume that the accident wasn't preventable. Contact a truck accident attorney to discuss your case.