NHTSA Head Seeks to Prevent Tire Blowouts on Big Rigs from Speed

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The tires on big rigs probably aren't safe enough on highways with 80+ mph speed limits. That's the message brought to us by Meghan Barr and Tom Krisher with the Associated Press. According to Barr and Krisher, the nation's "safety chief," Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wants to cap big rig speeds before a tire blowout causes a serious wreck.

Greater Risk of Tire Blowouts

Based on the AP report, the tires on big rigs aren't rated for speeds above 75 mph, yet many states have higher speed limits. In Texas, for instance, the speed on some rural highways is 80 mph or higher, which likely increases the risk of a blowout.

It's tough to tell how much of this is a manufactured news story, however, or simply busywork created by the NHTSA, as Barr and Krisher quote the NHTSA chief as having said that there haven't been any actual deaths tied to higher speed limits and lower rated tires. But we'd have to agree with the quote: "You don't wait for somebody to die when you know there's a safety problem there."

Other Factors

The AP reports cites the presence of other factors that may contribute to tire blowout, other than the tires not being rated for 80+ mph speeds - that of under-inflation or heavy loads, which could definitely be a cause for concern in terms of wrecks.

Speed Limiting

One of the NHTSA's options, apparently, is a speed-limiting device that would cap big rigs at 75 mph. If the NHTSA managed to push this through, as the NHTSA chief has said he'll do, that might be the best option of all, as reduced speeds in general would probably help prevent some wrecks.

(Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/6FqBsE) 
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