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Think Roadside Alligators are all Retreads? Think again.

Researchers investigate causes of truck tire debris, find 60% are virgin tires.

“There’s a public perception that if it’s a retread truck tire, it’s not as good,” says Oliver Page, assistant research scientist in the Transportation Safety Analysis Division. “That’s not true. What we were trying to do is see if retreads were overrepresented in samples collected, and if they were, whether the probable cause of failure was due to manufacture/process issues.”

86,000 pounds of fragments and casings were analyzed after being collected from major interstate routes in five different states with high commercial-trucking flows.

Overall, where tire status could be determined, original equipment actually accounted for 60 percent of the tire casings tested, whereas retreads accounted for 40 percent.

Analysis of the debris found that road hazards, such as hitting a curb or sustaining a nail puncture, were the most common cause of tire failure for 38 percent of the fragments and 36 percent of the casings. It was determined maintenance and operational issues accounted for 32 percent of the tire casing failures, while degradation from excessive heat was evident in the final 30 percent of the tire fragments examined.

For both casings and fragments, tire failure due to the retread manufacturing process was under 15 percent.