A tragic tractor-trailer accident occurred on Interstate 95 in West Melbourne Florida this summer. A 59-year-old man lost his life to a freak, yet probably avoidable, tractor trailer crash. Proper truck maintenance could have saved the man's life. The truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano have a combined 130 years of experience litigating truck crashes and other personal injury cases and understand that truckers and trucking companies must conduct proper maintenance and safety checks of the entire rig, especially the tires.
The accident happened when a tractor-trailer towing a large piece of construction equipment called an excavator, experienced tire failure. As a result of the tire failure, the tractor-trailer slammed into the barrier separating the north and southbound lanes of I-95. The excavator dislodged from the trailer and entered the roadway on the northbound side. The deceased driver slammed into the excavator and died on scene. The tractor-trailer driver suffered serious injuries in the crash. There were no indications any else was wrong with the truck except the tire that failed.Tire failure, whether it be a blow-out or tire separation, presents an enormous hazard for the tractor-trailer driver and fellow motorists. The immediate release of air from the failed tire causes the truck to lose control. The sudden movement can cause the truck to fishtail, jackknife, or possibly roll over. Or, as was the case in West Melbourne, the truck can crash through safety barriers and into on-coming traffic. Some tire failures can happen without warning such as when the truck rolls over debris in the road, other tire failures are preventable. Truckers and trucking companies must take the time to perform a safety check of the tires and wheels to be certain they are fit for the road. Truck drivers must inspect the inner and outer wheels to make certain the threads on each tire are not in disrepair.
Tire separation is also preventable. Tire separation is particularly dangerous. Tractor-trailer wheels are extremely heavy and dense. They can easily crash through a windshield. What makes that particularly dangerous is that other driver and unsuspecting of the possibility that a wheel could fly off of a truck and they do not have the time to react to avoid a collision. Additionally, the tractor-trailer could lose control from the wheel separation.
Studies have shown that proper wheel maintenance is critical to preventing tire separation crashes. Bearings and spindles must be in good repair and need to be inspected before any load is affixed to the truck or trailer. Technicians installing wheels must make certain that they apply sufficient torque to the spindle nuts to prevent them from becoming dislodged during transit. Additionally, truckers must be sure that the wheel, hub, and drums properly fit and are in good condition. While some wheels may seem properly fastened, debris and paint get into the wheel fasteners. The paint and debris fall out while the truck is moving. That causes the wheel to loosen. Therefore, maintenance checks must include inspecting areas for the buildup of debris which creates a false seal with the wheel.
Even if drivers are not highly trained technicians, they can learn what to look for when inspecting the wheels on their truck. They should look for rust line, loose bolts, squeaking or grinding wheels before they depart from the terminal. Additionally, drivers should re-torque newly fastened wheels after 50 or 100 miles to prevent tire failure and separation.