PACIFIC GROVE, Calif.-Tire failures due to improper inflation pressure and heat buildup are major causes of rubber debris on U.S. roads, according to truckers polled by the Tire Retread Information Bureau. But they also came down hard on the retread industry, citing poor workmanship in retread shops and the lack of standards for casing inspections as problems resulting in rubber on the road, the survey suggested.
Polled at the recent International Truck Show in Las Vegas, 28 trucking company executives, owner-operators and drivers provided taped interviews for TRIB officials and volunteers who sought answers to the rubber debris problem from ``real world (retread) users,'' according to TRIB Managing Director Harvey Brodsky.
A $1 donation was given to charity as incentive to participate in the survey.
The impromptu answers-some stinging condemnations of retreads-suggested some truckers blame retreaders and the retreading process for blowouts that can cause costly downtime and damage to trucks.
Others, however, were quick to point out a lack of proper tire maintenance is a contributing factor in retread blowouts.
More than 30 percent of the truckers specifically mentioned ``retreads'' when asked what they thought caused rubber on the road, while 25 percent cited improper inflation and 21 percent said heat.
Nine of the 28 truckers said better preventative tire maintenance would reduce the amount of rubber on the road. However, eight simply said better retreads were needed to solve the problem.
Mr. Brodsky sent copies of the taped responses to the 50 tire manufacturing, retreading and trucking officials that comprise the Tire Debris Prevention Task Force, which formed last June.
That task force agreed at its inaugural meeting to address the problem of tire debris on roadways by educating truck drivers and maintenance personnel on how to avoid on-road blowouts, while addressing the concerns of government officials and legislatures seeking to ban the use of retreads.
The taped responses are important to the task force and the retreading industry in general, Mr. Brodsky said, because truckers ``are the real world users of our products.''
``How can you address the guy's problem if you don't know what ticks the guy off,'' Mr. Brodsky said in explaining the ratio-nale behind the interviews.
The task force is scheduled to meet again in conjunction with the fall meeting of The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations in October.
Only six truckers said they did not use retreads, but most had used them at some point, reporting hit or miss experiences with retread quality.
``My experience with (retreading) is if you've got a good carcass and got it recapped-and the man that's recapping it hasn't been drunk all night and does a good job-you get a darn good job,'' said one trucker from Bixby, Okla.
Mr. Brodsky agreed that there are retread shop owners who do not produce a quality product.
``There's a lot of garbage in any industry,'' he said, blaming retreaders who produce and truckers who purchase low-cost retreads. ``We're trying to polish the image in the industry.''
When asked what the retread industry can do to improve, the most popular answer was to make better retreads. ``Get the retreads so they don't come off-especially in hot weather,'' suggested a Dalton, Ga., trucker.
Three drivers called for standards for casing inspections. In fact, truckers repeatedly commented that they believe the practice of retreading damaged or too-old casings is a cause of many blowouts.
Mr. Brodsky said he was not surprised by the majority of comments made during the interviews.
``We need to do a better job of explaining that we can make a terrific product,'' he said. ``But that guy has to take care of the product. . . When you ask any product to do what it was not designed to do, it's going to fail.''