OTA responds to Ontario wheel-separation fatality

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TORONTO, Ont. — Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) chief David Bradley today issued an advisory following a deadly accident in Ontario involving what is believed to be a separated tractor-trailer wheel.

This morning a woman was killed when the car she was driving collided with what is believed to be a detached tractor-trailer wheel. The truck driver believed to be involved did not stop at the scene, but police believe he or she may not have noticed the incident.

While the investigation is ongoing, Bradley had this to say: “It doesn’t matter to us at this point whether the wheel in question came off of a truck or not. This is a tragedy which should not be inflicted upon any family so we’re asking all truckers, indeed the operators of all commercial vehicles, to review their wheel installation and maintenance practices and policies to try to prevent further occurrences.”

The Ontario trucking industry went through a period of frequent wheel separations in the 1990s, prompting legislators to impose an absolute liability fine of up to $50,000 against vehicle operators in wheel separation incidences. Since then, wheel-off incidences have declined from 215 in 1997 to 48 so far this year.  

“These fatalities should not be occurring,” says Bradley. “That’s the bottom line.”

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  • Hopefully the driver comes clean, he/she will have to live with that thought for the rest of their time. So Dave, what do you think is a better solution to resolve this? What are you, youself think should be implmented as preventive for any future wheel offs incidents? Bearing failure was more than likely the cause guessing off hand. So we should be cracking down on the people who install the product? Say the bearing installed too tight. Do you think the driver is going to be aware of that. Not making excuses for the person(s) at fault.It always easy to say the driver this..that. What if it was one of yours? Definitly a tragic situation never the less.

  • I was looking at the pictures on the web and in the paper regarding this incident and have come up with a few questions.

    1. I find it hard to beleive that one wheel would come off and not the other if it were in dual setup. Was there another tire that wasn’t reported because it didn’t hit anything?

    2. For some reason the pictures lead me to beleive that this tire wasn’t in use. I don’t know the circumstances (if they retreived it out of a ditch filled with water etc.) but this tire doesn’t look like it was in use which makes me wonder if it were under the belly of a trailer or on the deck of a cab or flat bed. Why they would have a rim on it would be anyone’s guess.

    3. A truck missing a tire couldn’t have gone very far and I’m sure someone would have reported it. If it were a dual, the other would have come off real quick and if it were a single tire, the vehicle should have been disabled.

    The more I think about it, it most likely was a tire that was on the deck of a cab/flatbed or under the trailer not secured properly. Either way it is not right that this can come loose. I would guess that the driver is scratching his head the next day while doing a circle check and thinking that someone stole his spare tire.

    Just my 2 cents worth, lets make sure this doesn’t happen again.

  • Wheels have been coming off axles since they were invented.
    I would be surprised that after more than 5,500 years of wheel off’s,
    they can find a solution, other than banning the wheel, which I’m sure
    some politician will try to do.

  • I would like to address a response to Jim L and Patricks comments on this horrific yet entirely preventible incident.

    Jim, your question as to whether this tire was in service. It appears it was and the photo of the tire leaning up against the hood of the OPP vehicle shows signs of elongation in the bolt holes. At least the photo I came across.
    This is a tell tale sign that the wheel nuts had been losing clamping force due to a number of reasons. Primarily neglect. Ontario conditions are notorious for road salts which contribute to degradation of the fastening components. When a wheel nut becomes loose, the “torque” (which is measurement, not a force) becomes compromised, the result is that it passes the remaining loads to the other 9 nuts and begins a domino effect until the fanged nuts on the rim and studs can no longer maintain the forces required to hold the wheel in place. This can be determined by examination of the rim and hub. Although a proper examination will be conducted, this appears to be neglect at various stages of tire servicing or maintenance. There are numerous ways to prevent these occuring and preventible outcomes but it must be mandated by the highest levels in the company. The bottom line is that time is money. Servicing and maintaining wheel nuts must and should be part of every OSHA program but to my knowledge it is not. I have been involved in many a discussion on this with various industry players. It always comes down to cost and time, neither of which the industry has much of. Margins are tight. I have developed a product that would mitigate corrosion on components and provide ease for visual inspections on fasteners and studs. We have been told that no one is interested in using a product that saves time, money and lives. Unfortunately until the transport industry is mandated by law to maintain and service their wheel ends, we are all subject to Russian Roulette while commuting on our highway systems. These incidents are entirely preventible.
    Scott Rand

  • I teach vehicle inspections and I see about 5% of drivers ever check their wheels. I was at a major trucking company the other day and seen new hires that had no training at all. It is disgusting what is happening out there on our highways. Between the drivers being too lazy to check wheels or companies are too cheap to offer training I am afraid we haven’t seen even close to the end of this hazard. I have everything from we don’t get paid to do it or I don’t want to get dirty. Companies say it is the drivers responsibility but they do nothing to correct the lack of inspection these drivers do; that would cost money!