Despite obeying all traffic laws and driving attentively and defensively, you could still cause an accident if one of your tires unexpectedly blows out. Tire blowouts are fairly common occurrences and result in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year. We cover what you can do to prevent a blowout and how to react if one happens to you.
Preventing Tire Blowouts
Tire blowouts most often occur in summer months due to increased tire pressure caused by the heat and hot road surfaces. However, blowouts can be prevented by regular inspection of the condition of your tires and replacing tires that show wear and tear.
When looking your tires over, watch for the following:
- Slow leaks
- Wear and tear
- Low pressure
- Worn down tread
- Embedded nails or other objects
Keeping your tires at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and not hauling heavy loads can also help prevent blowouts. Keep in mind that tire pressure changes according to air temperature, so a normal pressure reading in the spring may become a high pressure reading in the heat of summer.
How to Drive Through a Blowout
If you’ve never experienced a blowout, it can be quite a shock. While it's likely obvious what has happened, you should know what a tire blowout sounds and feels like.
In most cases—but not always—you'll hear a loud boom or bang when the tire pops, followed by the whooshing sound of the air rushing out. Then you'll hear the flapping sound of the deflated tire hitting the pavement. If you're traveling at highway speeds when a blowout occurs, you'll probably feel your car suddenly slow down and then pull towards the side of the flat tire. If the blowout was a front tire, you'll feel the pulling strongly in the steering wheel, while a rear-tire blowout will be felt through the chassis and seat of the car.
As all of this is happening, you'll have to keep control of your vehicle by taking the following actions:
- Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
- Don't slam on the brakes.
- Let your car slow down gradually.
- Pull to the side of the road once you've slowed to a safe speed.
- Activate your emergency flashers.
Any sudden reaction to a blowout can cause you to lose control of your car and crash into another car. In high-profile vehicles such as vans or SUVs, poor reaction to a blowout can also lead to a dangerous rollover crash. If a tire blowout does lead to an accident that leaves you, your passengers, or occupants of other vehicles injured, you may be held liable for the accident.
Understanding Liability Following a Tire Blowout Crash
You may feel that an accident following a tire blowout isn't your fault because you were merely reacting to an event that was out of your control.
However, you'll likely be considered legally liable for the crash if you fail in the following duties:
- Duty to act reasonably. If your reaction to a tire blowout is unreasonable—such as slamming on your breaks or sharply turning the steering wheel—and you cause an accident, you'll be considered responsible for any resulting crash. However, if the action you took was the only reasonable action available—slowing down and pulling off the road, for example—you shouldn't face charges.
- Duty to inspect. You have a duty to ensure your car is safe to drive. This includes inspecting the tires for wear and tear. If it's determined that you failed in this duty and caused an accident, you'll be held liable for compensating any injured parties.
- Duty to repair. If you did know about a tire defect—either based on your own inspection or someone else’s—and chose to drive anyway, you'll be held liable for the crash.
Ultimately, you're responsible not only for your actions as a driver, but also for the condition of your car if you cause an accident. Inspecting your tires and following the manufacturer’s or a mechanic’s recommendation regarding your tires can prevent an accident that might seriously harm others.
We Are Here for You
We offer these safety tips to protect our readers from accidents, but we also protect our clients from being mistreated by insurance companies that refuse to offer fair settlements. Call us today if you're struggling to get the compensation you deserve following any type of car accident.