A tire blowout is when a tire quickly loses air pressure so severely that it “blows” and the driver loses control. Although modern tires are more reliable than ever and blowouts don’t happen as much as they used to, they definitely still occur and can quickly create a dangerous situation.
In many cases, they lead to devastating truck accidents, especially when the truck is moving at a high speed. Sadly, 738 motor vehicle traffic fatalities involved tire-related crashes in 2017.
If you’ve ever driven on the highway or Interstate and have noticed scattered remains of tires, you’ve seen the leftovers of a tire blowout. In this post, we’ll discuss some common tire blowout causes, the types of accidents that can occur and what truck drivers should do if a tire blows out.
Causes of Truck Tire Explosions
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a tire blowout. In some cases, the driver is completely at fault, and it’s due to an oversight on their end. Other times, the problem may lie solely in the tire itself. Here are some of the most common reasons behind blowouts.
Often, the blowout will occur simply because the driver didn’t properly inflate their truck’s tires or they failed to change a tire that’s overworn. In both of these scenarios, a blowout can stem from tread separation, which causes the tire to rapidly lose air pressure and explode.
It’s also common for the problem to lie within the tire itself. Major defects can lead to bead failures, sidewall zipper failures, tread separation, and tire shredding. The likelihood of this happening increases when a truck has been driven in adverse conditions like on bumpy roads, over potholes or over broken glass. Tire defects can also lead to recalls of commercial trucks that are using bad tires. Because tire manufacturers are responsible for producing a safe, reliable product, they must heed tire recalls.
Heat is another huge factor. Driving on the road for long periods of time in high temperatures puts a strain on tires and makes them much more susceptible to blowouts. As you might imagine, summer is the time of year when tire blowouts happen most frequently. The period between mid-May and early October has even been dubbed “tire blowout season” by some.
Cargo loading errors are a huge cause of tire blowouts. That’s why each state has a maximum gross weight in pounds or kilograms that a truck can carry when driving on the Interstate System. Truckers aren’t allowed to carry any additional cargo beyond their truck’s maximum capacity. However, if they overload it, the odds of a tire blowout increase significantly.
The Wrong Tires
Other times, a tire blowout can be the result of a driver using mismatched tires or the wrong size of tires. Again, this falls in the hands of the person driving the truck, and they need to ensure that all tires are properly fitted.
Bad Brakes and Bad Braking Practices
There’s also a correlation between worn brakes and improper braking and tire blowouts. Brake failure is one part of the equation in terms of how brakes can lead to blowouts. For instance, applying the brakes too much causes the tread to quickly wear down and may cause it to explode. Needless to say, driving down steep grades where frequent braking is required can lead to issues. That’s why drivers should shift down to the lowest gear when traveling down mountains.
Potholes and Bad Weather
These are two factors that are completely out of a driver’s control. Unfortunately, less than ideal conditions are inevitable, especially if a trucker is making long hauls. However, they should recognize the negative impact that potholes and bad weather can have and check their tires regularly under these circumstances.
Types of Accidents Caused by Tire Blowouts
There are four main types of accidents that can result from a truck tire explosion.
- Rollovers – When a truck rolls over on its side or upside down.
- Falling Cargo – Other drivers on the road are struck with cargo or debris that falls out of a truck.
- Rear-End Accidents – A collision that occurs when a truck rams another vehicle from behind.
- Head-On Collisions – The front ends of a truck and another vehicle collide head on.
The severity of truck accidents, including those caused by blowouts, can be overwhelming, but there are resources for those who have been injured to get help.
What a Truck Driver Should Do When a Tire Blowout Occurs
Experiencing a tire blowout can be scary, especially if it’s the first time a truck driver has ever dealt with it. The ride goes from being calm and comfortable one minute to pure panic the next. Therefore, it’s very important to follow these steps after a truck tire explosion has happened.
- Stay Calm. First, the driver should try to remain as calm as possible. Getting rattled will only make the situation worse and more dangerous for everyone within the vicinity of the truck. While it’s not always easy, a driver must do their best to keep their composure.
- Maintain Control. Next, try to maintain control of the vehicle. Keep moving it in the direction it’s heading rather than trying to immediately veer off the road onto the shoulder. It’s essential that the truck keeps moving (at least for a while) in order to maintain control. In other words, don’t try to make any sudden stops right away.
- Reduce Speed Gradually. Once it’s under control, the driver should ease their foot off of the gas pedal and only use slight braking to slow down (a few taps on the brakes should do it). Avoid any hard braking because this can cause you to lose control of the truck.
- Pull Off the Road. Finally, the driver should pull steadily over to the side of the road, ideally with the blown tire facing away from traffic. At that point, they can take a moment to gather themselves and replace the blown tire.
If involved in a tire blowout accident, contact experienced attorneys immediately. Once you find a truck accident attorney, they can retrieve and preserve evidence as well as conduct a thorough investigation that leads to the cause of the incident. If you have been in an accident and need immediate legal assistance please don’t hesitate to call the Texas semi-truck accident lawyers of Stewart J. Guss. We are available 24/7, seven days a week — serving clients nationwide.