Most drivers of large, heavy trucks realize the importance of having well maintained brakes. But many neglect another critical aspect of increasing safety and reducing costs: their tires.
To combat driver ignorance of proper heavy truck tire care and other safety issues, the non-profit industry regulation enforcement group Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and other federal transportation agencies are sponsoring the 18th annual Road Check 2005 program. This event will run 72 continuous hours from June 7 to 9 at highway inspection sites and roving patrols throughout North America.
Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the non-profit Tire Retread Bureau, said many drivers of large trucks believe they can estimate inflation pressure by kicking their tires, a myth he’s hoping the Road Check event will dispel.
“The truth is, trying to determine if tires need air by doing that is as effective as trying to determine if a vehicle’s engine needs oil by thumping on it’s hood,” said Brodsky, whose TRIB organization is a Road Check sponsor.
TRIB will be distributing information and recommendations as part of Road Check on the importance of proper tire inflation. According to TRIB, worn or under-inflated tires are second only to brakes as the cause of large truck accidents.
The Road Check event is also targeting contractors who might use large trucks at the jobsite.
Brodsky said two important rules for contractors to remember are to avoid excessive overloading and to keep their speed at or below the speed limit.
“They’re not hauling feathers,” he said. “This is when air pressure becomes extremely important. It’s everything.”
By keeping correct inflation pressure, drivers maintain accurate handling, traction, braking, load-carrying capability and fuel economy. Underinflation reduces miles per gallon at least 0.5 percent for every 10 psi deficiency, according to TRIB.
Much of the stress tires experience is due to sidewall flex. This flexing generates heat, which can lead to premature wear and fatigue, and failure of the steel cords.
Brodsky said tires with improper air pressure, when driven long enough, will come apart.
“It isn’t a question of if they will come apart, it’s a question of when,” he said.
Drivers interested in receiving an information packet from TRIB as well as a free tire gauge should contact Harvey Brodsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Beeson can be contacted at email@example.com.