Poor tires are a frequent contributor to truck accidents. Truck tire blowouts often result in loss of control accidents or rollovers. Inadequate tread decreases the ability to stop, which contributes to many accidents during inclement weather and increases the likelihood of rear ending another vehicle.
Drivers play a critical role in regard to tire maintenance and safety; their actions can mean the difference between having a safe run and facing the consequences of tire failure. To help ensure tires are in safe operating condition, the following practices should be performed by drivers:
1. Air Pressure. Drivers should verify tire pressures each day before taking the unit on the road. Low air pressure is one of the main causes of blowouts and fires, along with other tire problems. Furthermore, tires inflated below the manufacturer’s specification can result in an out of service violation.
2. Tire condition. During pre trip and post trip inspections tires should be thoroughly inspected. Items to look for are air leaks, uneven wear, tread or side wall damage, or anything that seems out of the ordinary. All lug nuts should be securely in place and rims should be free of cracks or other defects.
3. Verify tread depth. Using a depth gauge, tread depths should be measured regularly to ensure tires meet the minimum FMCSA standards. If the tread is even with the wear indicator, the tire should be replaced.
4. Check between the duals. Ensure there is no hidden tire damage and verify that nothing has become lodged between the tires, such as obstructions or foreign objects. Also, make sure the tires aren’t rubbing together. It will result in an out of service violation.
5. Immediately replace missing valve caps.
6. Report problems immediately. If a tire defect is found, the problem should be reported immediately and the tire should be repaired or replaced. If the damaged tire is in violation of Part 393.75, rather than driving on the tire, it’s better to have the repairs performed in a safe location by a road repair service.
7. If you hit or run over a big piece of road debris, don’t just keep driving. Find a good place to pull over and check to see if any damage was done.
8. Check the vehicle's owner's manual to determine precise air pressure. It should provide initial data on the weight of the vehicle and standard load.
Maintaining your tires isn’t only going to make you safer on the road, but it will help you avoid citations, improve your gas mileage and help your tires last longer.