The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a public warning to Americans that everyone needs to check their tires to make sure that the tires have enough air. Why? The heat of summer can work with under-inflated tires to cause the tire to blow or fail — and wrecks to happen.
Tire blowouts are especially dangerous when someone is driving at a high speed or in lots of traffic. Tire blowouts can hit any vehicle on the road. For example, recently a big rig semi truck suffered a tire blowout in Illinois and the entire, huge semi truck flipped on its side as a result.
Big Rig Semi, Family Sedan Two Recent Examples of Tire Blowout Crashes
On July 3, 2013, on Interstate 80 near the Plank Road exit, a semi owned by Rollmark Trucking of Chicago had a tire blowout; luckily, the truck driver was not injured and the only suffering by others were the traffic delays (a 2 hour delay) caused by the big rig blocking part of the westbound highway lanes.
A family in Utah was not as lucky the week before: on Interstate 15, a family traveling at high speed on a freeway suffered a tire blowout near Beaver, Utah, and a crash happened as the tire blowout caused the car to flip, tossing some of the family members out of the car.
Tragically, it is reported that a 4 year old passenger suffered a broken neck and his 5 year old brother has severe head trauma injures. Mother, Father, and one other child were also seriously hurt in this blowout crash.
Personal Injury Lawyers Join In Warning of Tire Blowout Dangers This Summer
Personal injury lawyers are also well aware of the dangers of tire blowouts in the summer months, and welcome the warnings provided by the federal government via NHTSA that motorists should know that hot weather and under-inflated tires increase the chances for a tire to fail while the car is driving along the hot asphalt — in fact, NHTSA estimates that tire failure causes approximately 11,000 crashes a year.
How? The tires’ tread can separate while the car is moving because the tire is old or bald. The tire may be new but without enough air so it is under-inflated.
What the federal agency warning does not explain is that the tire can also be flawed or defective — either that particular tire, or the design of that model — and the tire may have been improperly placed on the vehicle or improperly inflated at the gas station or tire center.
Tire recalls happen all the time (Firestone, Michelin, etc.) When a tire fails, there may be many different reasons for a blowout crash.
Safety Tips to Prevent a Tire Blowout
NHTSA reports that under-inflated tires and worn down treads are major causes of tire failure. In addition to making sure that your tires are not the subject of a recall, the following tips from NHTSA can help keep you and your family safe from a tire blowout crash:
- Follow the recommended tire pressure in pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) for your vehicle. This information is found on the vehicle placard typically inside the car door and in the vehicle owner’s manual.
- Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Tires lose one PSI every month, so it is important to check your tires monthly to ensure proper inflation.
- If your vehicle is equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), know where the TPMS warning is on your dashboard, and take action if you receive a warning.
- Check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations for tire replacement for your vehicle. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend six years, some tire manufacturers recommend 10 years as the maximum service life for tires, including spares.
- Monitor the tread on all tires on your vehicle. Tires with tread worn down to 2/32 of an inch or less are not safe and should be replaced.
- Look for treadwear indicators – raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear it is time to replace your tires.
- Try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire has less than 2/32 of an inches of tread and you are ready for new tires.
- Remember that seat belts are your best defense in a crash.