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Published on February 26, 2007

'Road gators' can be avoided

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Opinion

AKRON (Feb. 26, 2007) — Everyone in the tire and trucking industries knows, or should know, that retreaded truck tires are not the lone cause of tire debris on the nation's highways.


It's a well-documented fact that excessive heat buildup in a tire, usually caused by underinflation, is a situation that can make a properly built tire self-destruct and fall apart. And that can happen whether the tire is new—yes, new—or has been retreaded.


Still, that answer probably isn't apparent to motorists who've had the frightening experience of following a tractor trailer rig and suddenly seeing huge chunks of tread pealing off a truck tire as they're flying down the road at 65 mph or faster. Just as unsafe is having to dodge these so-called “road gators” that litter our nation's highways, particularly during the summer months.


And motorists shouldn't be satisfied with that answer.


A tire that falls apart as a result of underflation is a problem that doesn't need to happen. It can be avoided by the simple act of maintaining proper tire inflation.


The tire and trucking industries, and particularly the retreading segment of the business, should not lose sight of this as they fight and debate proposed legislation in Florida aimed at prohibiting the use of retreads on that state's highways.


Tire debris is a problem the tire and trucking industries can and must resolve. What's more, it's an issue that isn't going to go away—unless and until something is done to change the way these industries go about maintaining tires.


The author of the Florida bill, State Sen. Victor Crist, admitted he's using the proposed legislation to call attention to the problem. That he did.


In the bill, he calls for a ban on the use of retreaded tires on “truck tractors, pole trailers or semi trailers operated on public roads, streets or highways.” Not included are tractors or trailers that are operated only in truckyards or off-road applications.


Sen. Crist's bill is unlikely to become a reality. Banning the use of retreaded truck tires in Florida—or anywhere, for that matter—would destroy the local retread industry and create huge problems for truckers forced to remove retreads on their vehicles before entering the state.


Banning retreads also would create environmental concerns, as retreading offers a way to reuse a tire several times before it has to be discarded.


Still, the proposed bill should wake up the tire and trucking industries to the need for better tire maintenance.


Addressing this topic annually, if not more often, at The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations meetings, would be a good place to start.


It's time to be proactive on this important issue, with everyone involved—and that includes tire dealers and retreaders as well as truckers—doing more than just talking about the problem.


Then everyone—these industries, consumers and politicians—will benefit from less tire debris on the country's roads.

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