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Last week I wrote about the uninsured motorist coverage issues raised by the news story about a Mequon, Wisconsin motorist killed by a flying truck tire that had come loose, crossed a highway median, and flown into the victim’s windshield.
The victim was later identified as Krishna Chintamaneni, the highly regarded chief of staff of Milwaukee’s St. Francis Hospital.

But the truck owner has now been found.

Traffic cameras captured the image of three trucks that passed through the scene about the time of the accident, and authorities were able to contact the owners, one of whom discovered that its truck was missing a driver’s side tire. Today’s story focuses on the truck owner’s poor record of safety inspections, and the driver’s record of speeding violations. So now it appears that this will not be a case involving uninsured motorist coverage after all, but probably one of negligent truck inspection.

Reporter Rick Romell, who has written on truck safety issues before, reports that there have been at least seven deaths this year from truck tire separations, usually caused by poor truck maintenance practices and truck part corrosion from highway salts and chemicals.

In 1992, the National Transportation Safety Board published a study on the problem of truck wheel separation, which made several recommendations to address the problem:

Develop guidelines for the inspection and maintenance of all types of medium/heavy truck wheels.

Develop practices that specify how often truck wheel bearings should be examined.

Promote an educational program on proper wheel tightening procedures through carriers, manufacturers, and government.

Encourage manufacturers to provide a labels with recommended practices to torque wheel fasteners.

Educational program on proper wheel tightening procedures by the carriers and manufacturers

Encourage States to separate wheel defects from tire defects in future accident data collection efforts.

Truck safety equipment manufacturers are analyzing the problem of wheel separation too, offering tire safety products designed to prevent the kind of accident that happened here.

Hopefully, organizations involved in highway safety like the Transportation Research Board will take a look at systems to improve truck inspection to reduce the likelihood of this kind of tragedy from happening again.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.

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