The semi-tractor trailers that transport goods to stores and warehouses in Florida and around the country usually have 18 wheels, and each of them weighs about 100 pounds. When a wheel falls off while a truck is in motion, other road users rarely have time to get out of the way and avoid injury. Flying wheel accidents, as they are called, are often fatal, and the victims are sometimes pedestrians, cyclists, construction workers or first responders.
Causes of flying wheel accidents
Determining what caused a truck wheel to fall off is sometimes difficult, and truck inspectors, engineers and metallurgists may have to be called in to help identify the problem. If the truck crashed after losing one or more of its wheels, the investigation could be even more challenging. Some of the most common causes of flying wheel accidents are:
- Rusty or broken axles
- Wheel bearing failures
- Hub separations
- Tire defects
- Inadequate maintenance
- Botched repairs
A flying truck wheel can cause death or serious injury to vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians. In June 2018, a 25-year-old man was killed when a wheel flew of a truck and struck his SUV on Interstate 95 near Oakland Park. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the wheel struck the vehicle after bouncing over a concrete wall. The commercial vehicle accident was blamed on a catastrophic tire failure.
Mechanical failures are sometimes unavoidable on a machine as large and complex as a semi-tractor trailer, but negligence is often to blame when one of these vehicles loses a wheel. Rusty axles, worn wheel bearings and defective tires are all issues that could be prevented by proper maintenance or detected during regular truck inspections. When these steps are not taken, flying wheel accidents that kill or seriously injure other road users become far more likely.