It’s a little piece of plastic, but it could pay huge dividends for highway safety.
State inspectors in Washington say it might have prevented a crash between a van and a flying wheel from big rig that happened in the blink of an eye.
The double wheels of a big-rig trailer broke free and tumbled across busy Interstate 5.
“He saw it coming,” says Bristol Kvernenes, the wife of the victim.
John Ellis, a young husband and new father, was riding in a van and was killed.
“That’s the last thing he saw in this world,” Kvernenes said.
A study of Washington inspection records the last two years found more than 2,200 big rigs were running with faulty wheels.
Here in Oregon, the Oregon Department of Transportation keeps track of truck safety inspections. Information Officer Sally Ridenour told KVAL that in 2007 there were about 2,300 big rig crashes. Out of that number, only about 40 were caused by mechanical defects. Tires and wheels were ranked second on the list of defects.
Out of 37,000 trucks inspected last year, 28 percent were pulled out of service for safety violations.
However, the Wheel Check is a 65 cent piece of plastic that could make a safety difference.
The Wheel Check fits on each lug nut, pointing in the same direction. If a lug gets loose, the arrow moves.
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