Mechanical failure and, potentially, driver error on the part of the truck driver resulted in a fatality crash involving an 18-wheeler and two other vehicles August 10th just outside of Lufkin. Thaddeus Warden, of Lufkin, was tragically killed in the crash. Mr. Warden was driving a 2013 Dodge southbound on highway 59 when the 18-wheeler lost control crossed the median and crashed into Mr. Warden’s truck and a 2016 Jeep driven by Bria Jones of Houston. According to reports, Ms. Jones was injured as well and transported to a Lufkin hospital. A passenger in the 18-wheeler, Brenda Ramon, of Laredo was also killed in the crash.
According to DPS reports, the 18-wheeler suffered a blowout immediately prior to the driver losing control of his truck. At this time, it’s not known whether the blowout theory is based on information from the driver, or evidence obtained from the scene. However, these type crashes are all too common on our nation’s roadways. Many assume that a tire “blow out” is some kind of freak accident that just ‘happens’ and can’t be prevented. Nothing could be further from truth. Crashes caused by tire “blow outs”, just like crashes caused by wheels suddenly “coming off” 18-wheeler trailers, are almost always preventable and usually the result of negligent maintenance, driver error, or both.
Today’s tires are manufactured to exacting standards and don’t “blow out” unless something is bad wrong. Remember the Ford Explorers and Firestone Tires that kept exploding and causing crashes? Remember all the lawsuits? That’s because tires are not supposed to blow out. There were lawsuits because the Firestone tires were defective and dangerous. Now, think of all the pieces of 18wheeler tires you see on the side of the road. Have you ever heard of a big wave of 18wheeler tire lawsuits? You can bet that if the tires were defective, there would be lawsuits all over the place.
The truth is, 18-wheeler tires are manufactured to significantly higher standards that passenger cars. The average passenger car tire weighs about 20 pounds while the average big truck tire weighs in between 100 and 110 pounds. However, as you can imagine, truck tires are also under tremendous pressure and stress. Big trucks are allowed to carry 20,000 pounds of weight on each axle. The most common cause of “blowouts” are driving on worn and damaged tires, or driving on under inflated tires. Big truck tires are designed to run on 95-115 pounds of air pressure (as opposed to the 32 pounds required for a passenger car). When a trucking company decides to cut corners and squeeze ‘a few thousand more miles’ out of worn and damages tires it puts everyone else on the road at risk. Likewise, low air pressure and worn and damaged tires are easily detected by even the most inexperienced driver, if he or she takes the time to look. When truck drivers get in a hurry, and skip the pre-trip inspection that the law requires them to perform before every trip, the results can be absolutely tragic.
* Mr. Love practices law in Lufkin Texas and is the senior partner with the law firm of Mike Love & Associates, LLC. Much of Mr. Love’s practice involves representing the victims of 18-wheeler crashes. Mr. Love regularly speaks at legal seminars providing continuing education to other attorneys relating to car and big truck crash litigation through Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Texas State Bar.
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