Defective tires and Ontario trucking accidents

By Matt Lalande in Trucking Accidents on March 08, 2022

Defective tires and Ontario trucking accidents

On Canadian roads and highways, it’s hard to go from point A to B without seeing a truck. In fact, at any point during the day there are over 200,000 trucks on Ontario roads carrying over $3B worth of good – with 40,000 trucks a day travelling on 400 series highways alone.

Without question, trucks play an important part of the supply chain, but for those who have to share a road with them, it can be a terrifying and potentially dangerous experience. Between January and June of 2021, almost 3,000 crashes occurred in Ontario involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV), a category that includes trucks. Over the course of any given year, almost 2,000 Canadians are killed every year from truck accidents, and another 10,000 are seriously injured. 

Trucking Accident Lawyer Matt Lalande

As cases of trucking accidents increase – within and outside the country – the question remains: what is causing the accidents? Some cases of truck accidents are attributed to fault on the part of the passenger car driver involved in the accident – due to improper lane changing, aggressive driving, or speeding, to name a few reported areas – but truck drivers also share the responsibility. Aside from a number of issues related to truck driver responsibility, like being unfit to drive because of fatigue, reports show that the main cause of crashes is from technical issues, in most cases related to the truck’s wheels, tires and brakes. In fact, the most common cause of truck-related accidents is defective tires, the main reason behind about 30% of all accidents.

Why is tire maintenance absolutely crucial?

Vehicle and tire technology has evolved significantly over time, but the core concepts have not changed that much. The wheel is wrapped with a rubber tire designed with a tread, or regular grooves, to allow the driver to control the direction and speed of the vehicle. The safe movement and stopping of a truck- which can be anywhere from 9,000 to 33,000 pounds for trucks – relies on the points where the tires meet the road, each point no larger than a grown man’s palmprint There are a number of issues that can arise if the truck driver and tire manufacturer are not acting responsibly to avoid them, which can result in serious serious trucking accidents:

Issue 1: Incorrect air pressure

When inflated correctly, the treads of the tire should meet the road fully, from the outside to the inside of the tire. This maximizes the area of contact with the road, allowing the greatest amount of control for the driver. However, a tire that is overinflated results in less contact area with the road, giving the driver less traction with which to control the vehicle. 

Underinflation can be even more dangerous. Driving on underinflated tires can cause the rubber to heat up; tires will normally heat up from the friction as the vehicle moves along the road, but rolling on underinflated tires will accelerate that process. 

Issue 2: Unaligned and unbalanced tires

Tire alignment, or suspension alignment, is important for all vehicles and ensures the vehicle is safe to drive. For heavier trucks, it also means that there will be less wear and tear done to your tires, meaning they’re safer for both the truck driver and the surrounding cars on the road. Likewise, an unbalanced truck is equally hazardous for cars around it, particularly for larger semi-tractors, not having a properly packed truck while driving at high speeds or in poor weather conditions can lead to an accident. 

The main problem with this issue is that it’s up to the truck driver to ensure, before every trip, that the truck’s tires are properly aligned and unbalanced. For other drivers on the road around him, the ones most likely to be involved in any sort of accident, they’re unlikely to know if there are issues until it’s too late. 

Issue 3: Tire condition 

Whether it was a faulty product straight off the production line or defective as a result of usage, defective tire conditions are some of the biggest reasons for truck accidents. There is a whole range of different things that could be wrong with truck tires, any one of which could be the reason for an accident. 

  • Oddly patterned tread wear can mean the tire isn’t interacting correctly with the gear shaft, wheel or suspensions, which could indicate an unaligned tire. 
  • Over-worn tread wear means that the tires have worn out their usefulness and need to be replaced. If the driver continues to drive on them, they stand the possibility of failing while the truck is in motion. 
  • Tread separation; defective tires might not properly hold to the wheel and, while the truck is in motion, start to separate from the wheel. Tread separation can also be a result of improperly inflated tires. 
  • Lumps or “bulges”, “blisters” in the tire; for the most part, truck tires should be uniformly flat around the wheel. Any irregularities – or areas where the tire ‘sticks out’ or ‘sinks in’ is a worrying sign, because it indicates a failure in the material of the rubber. 
  • Vibration; excessive vibration could mean that the wheel is not aligned properly. Other issues that vibration could indicate include internal damage to the tire or issues with suspension. While a certain level of vibration is to be expected when driving, anything out of the ordinary should be considered a sign of trouble.
  • Wrong fit of tire; using tires that are meant for another size or weight class of truck (or vehicle) is dangerous, and can result in an imbalanced vehicle. 

When Trucking Accidents happen

Car accidents are already an awful experience that no one should have to experience, but when it involves a truck that can be several times the size of a regular passenger car, it can be truly nightmarish. Defective tires and their issues result in a number of situations that no driver wants to be a part of: 

  • Crash due to insufficient stopping distance: Unlike lighter passenger cars, heavier vehicles like trucks require more time and stopping power to come to a controlled stop, and the blind spots around a truck are much larger than that of a regular passenger car. Crashes can occur as a result of the truck not seeing your car passing them from the sides, or driving immediately behind or in front of the vehicle. Driving on defective tires makes the problem even worse; decelerating on wheels that are not properly maintained or installed can be the reason for the car to roll over or for the truck driver to lose control over his vehicle. 
  • Blowouts and jackknife accidents: Driving on defective tires could result in a blow-out, where the rubber of the tire rips off the wheel. Blowouts commonly result in jackknife accidents, where the rear of the truck slides out 90 degrees as the car comes to a stop. This can come about as a result of underinflated tires, for example, or if the tires were a defective product from the manufacturer and had irregular tread wear or a puncture in the tire.
  • Flying tires: When tread and tire separation happens, particularly on a fast-moving vehicle like a truck on a highway, nearby drivers are in danger of tires that might, literally, fly off their wheels. Wheel separations, as they are called, are a case of negligence by the installer of the tire. If you are injured because a flying tire from a truck slammed into your vehicle, there are charges that you, as the victim, can press. 

Aside from defective tires, there are also other conditions – fatigue, poor weather conditions, aggressive driving and difficulty driving to new locations – which all contribute to truck crashes, but defective equipment, and especially defective tires, still account for the bulk of truck-related accidents. Although there has been progress made towards reducing truck accidents, for all the other drivers and potential victims, every accident that is related to driving on defective tires is one too many.

If you or your loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, we can help.

Southern Ontario, including Hamilton, is an epicentre for the trucking industry. This area of the Province serves as a major Canadaian shipping, receiving and transportation hub. At any point between high driving peaks of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. there are more than 200,000 trucks which travel on Ontario highways, carrying over $3 billion worth of goods. As many as 40,000 trucks travel every day at the busiest point on Highway 401 in Toronto. As a result, trucking accidents are at one point or another – inevitable.

Remember, when trucking companies in Ontario operate negligently and hurt someone they should be held accountable for their actions. Our trucking accident lawyers can help guide you and your family through this difficult time period and ensure that you being compensated for your losses. Call us no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE (525-2633) or local in the Hamilton / Niagara / Burlington areas at 905-333-8888. Alternatively you can email through our website and we will get right back to you.

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