Are defective truck tires or speeding truck drivers a major cause of rising fatal truck accidents? According to trucking industry observers and insiders, the answer to this question is where the rubber meets the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently concluded its investigation into a number of blowouts of one major manufacturer’s truck tires. The federal safety agency took action in October 2014 following more than a dozen complaints of blowouts experienced by truckers using this brand of tires.

Over 200 People Die due to Truck Tire Blowouts

According to the NHTSA, about 16,000 people died in big rig and commercial bus accidents between 2009 and 2013. Of those fatalities, tires were a factor in almost 200 crashes that killed 223 individuals. The number of fatal trucking accidents due to blown tires rose steadily over this period. In this latest investigation, the NHTSA said the tires in question were a factor in three tractor trailer crashes of the 16 it examined.

However, the NHTSA concluded the tires weren’t the real culprit for the fatal trucking accidents; truckers who exceeded the speed limit were to blame. It also cited a lack of proper truck maintenance as a contributing factor.

Truckers Exceed Tire Stress Limits

The agency reported that, while most truck tires can withstand a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph, many truckers regularly exceed this threshold, causing undue stress on their tires, which can lead to catastrophic accidents. According to national statistics, speeding truckers are the primary cause for almost one out of every five fatal truck crashes.

The NHTSA also found truckers who overloaded their rigs or didn’t properly inflate their tires contributed to the tire blowouts.

Following the release of the NHTSA’s findings, the finger-pointing began in earnest. The tire manufacturer insisted that, when used properly, its tires were safe.

Some trucking companies employ speed governors, which place a maximum speed their big rigs can travel on the highways. One trucking organization, the American Trucking Association, called on the federal government to require these speed limiters to be set at no higher than 65 mph. It could be construed as a call to protect the trucking industry from itself.

The trucking industry also places the blame on states that have legal speed limits higher than 75 mph. Currently, 14 states have posted speed limits of at least 75 mph.

But the trucking industry passing the buck won’t stop the recent rise in fatal truck accidents from tire blowouts. Those who cause truck crash deaths must be held responsible for their negligent behavior and action be taken to stop it.

If you had a family member catastrophically injured or killed in an accident caused by a trucker, consult with an attorney who handles trucking accident cases to pursue your legal rights.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.