I don't know many truck drivers who are friends with state troopers, but you can't blame the Iowa State Patrol for cracking down on this. The ISP Commercial Motor Vehicle Unit shared photos on Thursday from a recent stop that show what used to be a normal semi-truck tire. Now, though, it's more like a drag slick... with the wires showing.
It's especially concerning because the tire appears to be on the truck's drive axle. You can see the differential poking out just behind the leaf springs. Even though it's the inside tire, the axle it's on is responsible for shouldering the tongue weight of the trailer as well as propelling the rig. You don't want smooth rubber like this anywhere on your tractor-trailer combo, but that's about as bad as it gets.
Iowa law limits each axle to carrying 20,000 pounds, so you can imagine what likely would have happened if this tire met a bump it didn't like. It's a lot thinner than it used to be, meaning it probably wouldn't take that big of a jolt to pop it. There are enough tire shreds to dodge on the interstate as it is—rollers in a lot better shape than this can still blow out under a heavy load—and this would've inevitably resulted in more if the driver hadn't been stopped.
It's tough to say exactly what caused this tire to wear out so much faster than the rest. As several commenters point out, it could have been wrongly sized.
The ISP CMVU didn't make any mention of the fines it dished out over this offense, though you can bet it wasn't cheap. It would've cost less to replace the tire in the first place as the owner still has to do that now with a ticket to boot. With rising operating costs and lower pay-per-mile rates across the industry, it's not an easy time to be a trucker. Still, that doesn't excuse a safety hazard as serious as what we see here.
Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: email@example.com