[2021 Update]: Tire blowouts continue to be a leading cause of accidents and claims. According to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 738 fatalities occurred in the United States as a result of tire-related crashes in 2017. With a staggering 3.2 trillion miles put on tires that same year, the NHTSA reiterated the importance of tire care and maintenance, revealing that underinflated tires are three times as likely to cause a blowout incident.
Tire Blowouts and Accidents
Old tires in bad condition that deflate or blowout while driving on the highway cause many motor vehicle accidents.
Bald and worn tires are the main causes of vehicle crashes that in many cases leave those involved in the accident injured or dead.
Doing a safety check before hitting the road is a good way to prevent this kind of accident from happening, but just how dangerous are they?
At Avrek Law we care about your well-being, and have summarized the most relevant information and advice to keep you safe on the road in regard to tire blowouts.
How Dangerous are Tire Blowouts?
Tire blowout-related accidents are a common occurrence and the cause of many injuries and deaths.
According to a 2003 NHTSA report, an estimated 414 fatalities, 10,275 non-fatal injuries, and 78,392 crashes occurred annually due to flat tires or blowouts before tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) were installed in vehicles.
The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey in 2005 to 2007 recorded 5,470 crashes, representing 2,188,970 crashes at the national level.
In 9% of these, one or more vehicles experienced tire problems in the pre-crash phase. Correspondingly, of the estimated 3,889,770 vehicles involved in the NMVVCS crashes, 5% experienced tire problems in the pre-crash phase.
50% of the tire-related collisions were single vehicle crashes, while only 31% of collisions where tire-related crash factors were not cited were single-vehicle crashes.
What to Do on The Road if My Tires Blowout?
The first action is to avoid panic and to not overreact. Many people have the instinct to brake hard or steer the vehicle, which can lead to tragic consequences.
Here are some tips that may help you avoid tragedy in the event of a tire blowout:
1) Keep the steering wheel steady.
Grip the steering wheel firmly with both hands so you do not lose control of the car. You immediately want to go to the side of the road depending on which tire was affected.
2) Do not slam the brakes.
This is a mistake that can be fatal and that causes the car to lose its balance completely. In the event of driving on a dirt road, you have to accelerate the car a bit to maintain stability and to prevent the remaining wheels from skidding.
3) Slow down with the gearbox and natural deceleration.
You must stop somehow. One option is through the vehicle’s gearbox, so that it slows down on speed. Another option is simply waiting for the car to stop naturally, as we move to the curb. No matter the option, the important thing is to never stop and to keep the wheel fixed.
4) Turn on the emergency lights and change the wheel.
If you could not stop at the berm, or in case there wasn’t one, you have to prevent accidents by putting up the safety cones of your emergency kit. Then, when you are out of danger, change the wheel and you are ready to go.
What Causes a Tire to Blowout?
There are numerous causes behind a tire blowout. It is estimated that during winter a tire loses between 1 to 2 pounds per square inch, while at high temperatures the pressure loss may be even greater.
In addition, tires are subject to weather elements which can contribute to the decrease in air pressure. These normal operating factors require the pressure to be checked periodically to ensure that it is at the proper level.
However, if the pressure loss is too high, the inflation valve must be checked as well to verify that the tire is well seated in the ring, and to check for cracks.
If problems persist, it may also be advisable to change the vulcanizer or to visit a specialized tire shop.
Tips to Avoid Tire Blowouts
1) Be sure to pick the right tires.
Be sure to select the right tires for your vehicle based on tire ratings and check them regularly for safety.
Keep in mind that tires:
- Are the only link between the vehicle and the road
- Support the entire weight of the car, which can be a load of up to 50 times its own weight
- Respond to different driving movements such as steering, acceleration and braking of the car
- Absorb all obstacles on the road
2) Regularly check the depth of the tire design and change them when worn.
In this way, both the grip and the traction will be guaranteed, avoiding unpleasant surprises.
Change the tires before the depth of the sculpture reaches the legal limit of 1.6 mm.
3) Check the pressure every month.
Correct tire pressure reduces the risk of losing control of the vehicle. It also protects tires from premature wear and irreversible damage to the internal build.
Tire pressure can be reduced by small perforations, by the natural escape of air from the tire components, or even by a drop in ambient temperature.
Check the tire pressure, including the spare tire, every month and before a long trip – preferably with cold tires (tires that have not circulated more than 4 kilometers at low speed).
If the tires are checked while warm, add 0.3 bar to the recommended pressure.
Is Damage from a Tire Blowout Covered by Insurance?
The type of insurance that covers accidents involving tire blowouts is called comprehensive insurance. This insurance is used when factors other than an accident or collision caused damaged to your vehicle, which are covered under collision insurance.
You should check with your insurance agent or a representative of your insurance company if you are unsure about what type of insurance coverage you have.
A possible reason that the tire had a blowout could be related to the tire itself. If the tire was defective, the damage may be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.
If it was a manufacturing defect that caused the tire blowout damage, the manufacturer of the tire itself may be liable for the damage.
Having comprehensive insurance will not guarantee coverage in the event you have a tire blowout.
If the blowout caused damage to the car, there is a good chance that the damage would be covered by your insurance policy.
If there was not damage to the car, but just the tire, it would often not be considered to be a covered circumstance.
The driver may be responsible for negligently maintaining their vehicle, but it may also be the manufacturer, retailer, or installer.
This is why it is important for you to contact a legal team of experienced attorneys who can help you recover damages from the correct party responsible for the car crash.
How to Avoid Being at Fault for a Tire Blowout Accident?
In many accidents, the driver is often the one held responsible. If it is found that negligence on the driver’s part caused the tire blowout, that driver can be liable for any damages caused, allowing others involved in the accident to file an insurance claim.
The driver could be liable during the following scenarios:
Duty to inspect:
All drivers should monitor their tire pressure to avoid it becoming either under or over-inflated.
In addition, they are required to check their tires for signs of wear, such as being threadbare, worn, or cracked.
Failing to do any of these will make them liable for any accidents that may occur.
Duty of not driving with defective equipment:
Drivers with knowledge of a tire defect are legally required to avoid the roads until they have had such a defect fixed.
Daily routine checks can increase awareness of the tires’ condition. If the driver who experienced the blowout failed to accomplish this task and caused an accident, they may be liable for the injuries of others involved in the accident.
Manufacturer, Retailer, and Installer Liability
It’s not always the case that the driver is the culprit of an accident involving a tire blowout.
While it is true that drivers are held accountable for keeping their cars in shape and driving with caution on the road, there can still be some accidents which are beyond their control.
For example, if you had your car inspected by a professional mechanic and he did not find the flaw that caused the car crash, then he may be the one to be fully or partially liable, depending on the situation.
Another scenario in which the driver would not be at fault would be if a mechanic incorrectly installs a tire or mounts the wrong type of tire; this could result in the tires deflating, bursting, popping out, and other unintended consequences.
Furthermore, if a retailer knew they were selling a defective or old tire, they could be held liable as well. Lastly, the manufacturers that create the tires are responsible if their tire is defective or dangerous in a design that leads to a blowout on the highway.
This was famously the case in the year 2000 when Firestone recalled approximately 6.5 million tires used in Ford’s utility vehicles, and other light trucks on the market. US authorities concluded a possible link between tire failures and accidents that killed 46 people during that year.
Injured in a tire blowout accident? We may be able to help.
With more than $1 Billion recovered in over 10,000 cases in the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona, Avrek Law is an expert in helping injured individuals successfully pursue their cases. If you’ve been injured, we want to hear about your case.