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High Speeds Blamed For More Crashes Involving Truckers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Big rig tires are only supposed to go a maximum constant speed of 75 miles per hour, but truckers across the country are exceeding that limit.

As Amy Yensi explains, that could be causing an increase in crashes.

A Virginia highway--the site of a deadly crash. A truck flips into a ditch, killing the driver.

Between 2009 and 2013, heavy trucks and buses were responsible for 14,000 fatal accidents. Government figures show that 223 of those fatalities were related to heavy truck tires.

Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into multiple truck tire blowouts found that high speeds and a lack of maintenance were to blame.

"The cap that you find for a tire speed for a truck is typically 75, up to 81 miles per hour. As you have increased speed limits, then certainly what that does is put the tire more at risk," said Louis Campion, Maryland Motor Truck Association.

The NHTSA agrees, pointing specifically to the increase in maximum speed limits in several states. Sixteen states have truck speeds equal to or greater than 75 miles per hour. Four states even go beyond that to 80 miles per hour.

The American Trucking Association says it's been warning of the dangers for years.

"Raising speed limits at the state level is a bad idea beyond 65 miles per hour," said Dave Osiecki, American Trucking Association executive vice president.

Osiecki says the industry has been asking the federal government to regulate speed with the use of electronic limiters that would cap a truck's top speed at 65 miles per hour.

Louis Campion is the president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association. He says truck drivers should check tire conditions before and after every trip because there are a number of factors that can cause them to fail.

"Not just speed, but also the quality of the tire, weather conditions, road hazards, the load of the cargo you're carrying. All of those will potentially increase the likelihood of a tire failure," said Campion.

Lawmakers in Maryland are considering legislation that would increase the maximum speed on interstate highways from 65 to 70 miles per hour.

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