Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. The temperature was 97 degrees. I had a load of almost 44,000 lbs in the trailer, bringing my gross vehicle weight to around 78,000 lbs. I was two miles from the stopping point for the day when BOOOM! I put my four-way flashers on while checking the side mirror. There was a light cloud of smoke and large chunks of rubber flying as high as my trailer (13'6"). All four lanes of traffic behind me slowed down and allowed me maneuver to the right shoulder. I stepped out to see if any damage to the trailer had been done when a car pulled up. The poor lady was fairly shook up. The piece of the blown tire hit her SUV on the passenger side of the hood, putting a large dent in it, tearing a chunk of her vehicle's undercarriage, scraping the headlight, and even denting the passenger side front fender.
She was the only one in the vehicle, and other than being rattled from the experience, she was okay. She now has a claim number and person to contact with my company. Sheriff's deputy came along and stopped traffic so he could clear the blown tire from the highway, which he said was much heavier than he thought it would be.
As I sit on the side of the interstate, waiting for road repair to come replace the tire (given the weight and the heat, it's just not safe to move the vehicle to a repair shop, so they are coming to me), indulge me a moment please while I stress the importance of not following big rigs too close. The lady estimated that she was 25 feet or so behind me, but at highway speeds it's just not a good idea. She's actually lucky it didn't go right through her windshield.
When the temperatures are soaring, a heavy load is much more likely to blow out a tire, so please folks, that extra few seconds following distance may mean everything. Stay safe and let's all get home in one piece, okay?
UPDATE: The tire is changed, I'm off the road, and everyone is happy. I just regret that there was property damage.