Friday, February 26, 2010

It’s called a Wheel Check and it saves lives

Many months ago, before I was commuting on the bus I started noticing fluorescent green/yellow plastic arrows on the lug nuts of semi trucks wheels.  I always wondered what they were but never actually took the time to look it up.

imageAs my bus pulled up this morning I noticed that all the tires on the bus have these things too.  A little internet research revealed that these are a 65-cent safety device made by a company called Wheel Check.  The idea is the mechanic that tightens the lugs installs these plastic arrows in a simple visual pattern.  Then the vehicle operator just has to glance at the tire during their state required walk around and they can tell easily tell if a lug nut is getting loose.  What a fantastic and simple invention.

As you can imagine, when lug nuts on big vehicles get loose bad stuff happens.  Every year there are multiple incidents of individuals being killed by flying tires in the northwest alone.  I Binged it and was instantly depressed by the sad stories of lost one from flying tires.

Wheel Checks are installed on all the Seattle Metro busses, Community Transit busses, Microsoft Connector and Waste mgmt vehicles.  Now that you know what’s it called and what it does I bet you notice one this weekend!


  1. Timely!!

    Today I drove to Anacortes to visit the museum for research and drop by to meet the owners of Burton Jewelers (great people, perhaps oldest original-owner jeweler in the state?)

    ANYWAYS, as I'm driving up around Marysville, in my rear view mirror I see a tire come out of a car behind me and go flying across the freeway. Heavy traffic today but luckily that was a clear spot. I was behind that guy maybe 3 minutes beforehand. Scary.

    This is exactly the kind of stuff that made me give up driving the first time... think of all of the insanely dangerous stuff you've seen happening at 70 or 80 miles per hour in your life! Amazing that we tolerate the risk.

  2. Wow, that sounds scary. A tire flying off a vehicle is something I've never seen first hand and hope I never do.

    The Wheel Check seems to be almost entirely focused on commerical vehicles but obviously this can happen to any car or trailer too. Maybe these will be the spinner rims of the 2010s. Surely Jay-Z and Puffy need a pair.

  3. I'm reading your blog for the first time and love this idea. I carpool 20 miles to work (just beyond the reaches of Atlanta public transit), and I'm still figuring out how to reclaim those hours. Lots of podcasts is the answer for now.

    Best of luck!

  4. Hey, my name is Courtney and I work for St. Louis Metro Transit, and just ran across your blog. I used to live in Seattle (Northgate!) and used to bus to work everyday to both Bellevue and downtown Seattle. I loved it. It sealed the deal for me as a true blue transit fan.

    Great blog, good luck and we'll be watching you here in St. Louis!

    Courtney Sloger
    St. Louis Metro Transit

  5. @Courtney S of St. Louis Does St. Louis Metro Transit have a twitter account?

    Please contact me via

  6. I thought it was bus bling!

  7. It is about the dynamics.. the tyre is slipping relative to the road. The coefficient of friction for dynamic contact is lower, so you have less traction.Wheels And Tires

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