Three people in an SUV suffered serious injuries when a tire that had detached from a tractor-trailer traveled across several lanes of the interstate and smashed into their vehicle. The crash happened on I-95 near Lewistown Road in Hanover County, Virginia (VA).
State troopers responded to the scene of the wreck a little after 1 am on July 16, 2021. They discovered that more than one tire had come loose from a northbound semi and become airborne before striking both the southbound SUV and another large commercial truck.
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The second commercial truck driver walked away without sustaining an injury. The occupants of the SUV, however, all required hospitalization. One of the passengers was reported to have life-threatening injuries.
Unsecured Truck Tires Pose Deadly Dangers
The northbound tractor-trailer driver did not stop when their tires came loose and turned into potentially deadly projectiles. Law enforcement officials continue searching for the driver, and it may be possible to trace one of or more of the tires back to a purchaser or trucking company.
Tracking down the driver could make it easier for the injured SUV passengers to file and collect on insurance claims. But even if that does not happen, recovering compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering should be achievable for the individuals who carry uninsured motorist coverage. Virginia law requires all policies sold in the state to include such provisions, but this is not true everywhere.
Uninsured motorist coverage can be accessed following a hit-and-run accident, which is what this crash on I-95 in Hanover County would become if the northbound tractor-trailer driver is never found. Even if the truck driver did not intend to flee the scene, and even if they did not recognize that some of their big rig’s tires had come loose, the fact the driver did not stop makes them a hit-and-run suspect.
More broadly, this incident highlights the dangers posed by damaged, defective and improperly maintained equipment on 18-wheelers and other big rigs. The Code of Federal Regulations spells out legally enforceable safety standards for large commercial trucks that cross state lines. A subsection of the CFR is specifically devoted to tractor-trailer tires, addressing such standards as how tires must be securely attached to a vehicle.
Complying with these rules obligates trucking companies and truck drivers to perform regularly scheduled and pre-trip inspections. Best practices call for paying particular attention to wheels, lug nuts and the suspension.
Failing to replace tires with worn treads leads to blowouts, braking problems and jackknives. Ignoring or never taking notice of stripped, rusted or loosened lug nuts sets the stage for what happened in Hanover County, VA. Tractor-trailer tires are large, heavy and truly a threat to life and limb when they start bouncing or flying down the highway.