According to a recent article by the Dallas Morning News many tractor-trailers on the nation’s roads are driven faster than the 75 mph their tires are designed to handle, a practice that has been linked to wrecks and blowouts but has largely escaped the attention of highway officials.
Nearly all truck tires have been built for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph since the middle of last decade, when drivers across the vast majority of the U.S. were allowed to go no faster than 65 or 70 mph.
But 14 states, including Texas, now have speed limits of 75 mph or greater. In parts of Texas, the speed limit is as high as 85 mph. Some of those states acted without consulting the tire industry.
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.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said James Perham, president of Extreme Transportation Corp., an automobile-hauling company near San Diego that filed a complaint with regulators about Michelin tires after seven blowouts caused an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 in damage to its rigs.
Along Texas Highway 130, which has an 85 mph speed limit for big rigs, driver David Ortiz said he didn’t know about the 75 mph rating for most truck tires, or how fast his tires were designed to go. He said his company has limited the top speed of his truck to 65 mph, and he normally goes 63.
But Ortiz conceded that a speed limit higher than the tires can handle is a safety problem for truckers who drive faster. “Somebody needs to think about it,” he said.
To make sure drivers know their tires’ limits, NHTSA is considering a requirement that maximum speeds be listed on the sidewalls of all truck tires.
Read the source article at the Dallas Morning News.
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