Investigation: Nevada speed limits may boost risk of truck tire blowouts

Research suggests that high speed limits, such as the one that Nevada recently legalized, may play a role in many truck tire blowouts.

Under a law passed in May 2015, Nevada will soon join a handful of other states in allowing motorists to travel at top speeds of 80 mph, according to The Las Vegas Sun. Safety advocates have expressed concerns about how this change may affect the severity and frequency of car accidents in Reno and other areas. Troublingly, an investigation completed earlier this year suggests that this change will markedly raise the risk of one type of truck accident: crashes that occur when tires blow out.

Speed blamed in blowouts

As CBS News explains, most truck tires are not rated to withstand modern travel speeds. Many tires are rated for maximum speeds of 75 mph, and the highest speed that any tire is approved for is 81 mph. In states where speed limits exceed these thresholds, motorists may face a high risk of large truck crashes that involve tire blowouts.

In early 2015, an investigation into several truck tire blowouts found that tire defects were not the problem. Instead, speed and poor maintenance were contributing factors in every case that was reviewed. This finding suggests that many blowouts and related accidents could be avoided if truck drivers were restricted to traveling at lower speeds.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that truck tire issues caused claimed at least 233 lives in fatal motor vehicle crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2013. The total number of people injured or otherwise affected by these accidents may be even higher. Considering this impact, some officials and industry organizations have called for special measures to address this issue and prevent unnecessary accidents.

Protecting innocent drivers

One proposed solution to reduce the number of tire blowouts is the use of speed-limiting devices. The mandatory installation and use of the electronic devices could prevent trucks from reaching speeds that put excessive strain on tires. Since about 30 percent of trucks presently don't use these devices, this approach could offer significant benefits.

The NHTSA is also working to create a new rule regarding the labeling of truck tires. The revised rule will require all tire labels to clearly display the maximum speed that the tire can safely travel at. Still, this change will not address cases in which truck drivers knowingly exceed reasonable speeds and put others at risk.

Sadly, due to the pending speed limit changes, accidents involving tire blowouts and other preventable issues may harm many people in Nevada this year. Depending on the circumstances, legal recourse may be available to the victims of these needless accidents. After securing appropriate medical assistance, victims should consider seeking advice from a truck accident attorney.