We have all traveled on the interstates and noticed a blown out and ripped apart tire in the middle of the road. The effects of a blown out tire while traveling at interstate speeds can be dangerous resulting in serious injuries and even death. How can you keep yourself safe and avoid these preventable accidents? To understand how to protect yourself, it is important to understand what can cause those unexpected blowouts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 1994 to 2004, "about 400 fatalities, annually, may be attributed to tire failures of all types."
Causes of tire failure include:
- Improper inflation
- Vehicle overload
- Road hazards
- Manufacturer defects
- Excessive speed
- Wear and tear
- Improper installation
The NHTSA reports that, "keeping tires properly inflated is perhaps the most significant action a driver can take to prevent tire failure." It can cause significant and permanent damage to the structure of the tire, which often can't be seen.
Do tires have a shelf life? Most definitely! According to a 2008 report by ABC News, "as tires get older, even if they've never been driven a mile, they begin to dry out and after 6 years of age, can become dangerous." It was further reported that the tires may look great to the naked eye but be damaged on the inside. A manufacturing date can be found on a tire but unfortunately most of us are not aware of that. At the end of the DOT number, the last number represents the manufacturing date of the tire. The two shown on ABC News were *414* which means the 41st week of 1994, and *4202* which means the 42nd week of 2002.
Unfortunately, these old tires can still be purchased at a tire store like Sears or Wal-Mart. They appear brand new but are lurking with hidden dangers. Tires can degrade with age, which can cause tire failure, including tread separation.
Many of us remember the Ford Explorer Firestone tire recalls. Numerous accidents occurred as a result of a tire defect in which the tread separated from the tire causing death and serious injuries when the vehicle crashed.
Unexpected tire separation and blowouts on the road can be scary but more importantly, they can be extremely dangerous. It is important to check your tires for proper inflation and tread wear, balance and rotate tires, keep up to date on tire recalls, and don't allow a tire store to provide you with an old tire - ask to see the manufacturer's date. Keep informed and be safe.
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