There’s a new trend occurring in the commercial trucking industry. If it continues, the traditional “18 wheeler” will become the “10 wheeler.” Since the beginning, trucking companies have used the conventional “dual tires” on multiple axles: two axles with four tires each on the trailer (8 tires) and two axles with four tires each on the rear of the tractor with two steering tires on the front (10 tires). The concept was to promote stability and a “backup safety” system if any one of the tires failed. Now, we are seeing more “super single” tires on tractors and trailers on the road. And while the industry is telling us this “exciting change’ is about fuel savings, a deeper look reveals there will actually be more danger on our highways and interstates.


The technology has been around for a few years, but all of the large tire manufacturers are now gearing up production. There have been a number of studies showing different levels of fuel savings. One study performed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) showed gas savings of 2.9%. At this figure, according to Bill Knee, a long haul tractor trailer averaging 125,000 miles per year getting 5 miles per gallon could potentially save approximately “728 gallons per year per truck.” It was also asserted that these new tires could also provide more stability with the widening of the trailer frame. A national trucking company also reported that its internal testing showed these new tires could go approximately 200,000 miles as opposed to 160,000 for conventional tires. Not surprisingly, tests run by tire manufacturers (Michelin) showed even greater savings of a “minimum of 7%” as well as “less tire maintenance.” All of these claimed savings seem great at first. But again, the real reason for the push emerges later in the presentation. By switching to aluminum wheels and one larger tire from heavier steel wheels with two smaller tires allows for a weight savings of close to 1,000 or more pounds. Rather than enjoying the savings, trucking companies immediately default to replacing that weight with additional cargo. So now, with the new configuration, you will have more payload on fewer tires. It’s always about moving more cargo down the road.


All tires can fail if not properly inspected and maintained, even the new “super singles.” And they will fail. It’s not a question of if, but when. This is one of the “problems” highlighted by going from two wheels to one. When the inevitable “blowout” occurs, those semi-trucks with the new configuration will no longer be able to “limp” back to be serviced. More disturbingly, it may also cause a load to shift and result in the driver not being able to control his 80,000 pound rig. What happens after this event only depends on who else is on the road. This is one of the reasons you won’t see studies by the trucking companies or tire manufacturers about the effects of a trailer tire failure with 1,000 more pounds of cargo in the back. Only statistics of death and mayhem on the nation’s highways will show the true effects of this change.

Although state and federal regulations are designed to protect the safety of the driving public, only experienced tractor trailer accident attorneys will hold negligent trucking companies responsible when their “newest trend” causes serious injury or death. Call our team of trucking accident trial lawyers at Robert J. Reeves P.C. for a comprehensive review of your particular situation if you or your family has been injured in a commercial trucking accident. 877-374-5999

*In serious trucking accident cases, the independent law firms of Robert J. Reeves P.C. and Aiken & Hightower P.A. work in conjunction to better serve our clients and to “balance the playing field.” Large trucking companies and their insurance carrier will assign multiple lawyers and aggressively defend these cases.

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