Are Your Tires Safe?

Are Your Tires Safe?

Your life and your safety are literally riding on your tires every time you drive your vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 11,000 crashes related to tire problems take place each year. In 2015, 719 fatalities were due to tire-related crashes. Ensuring that your tires are fit for the road should be a high priority for every driver.

Blowouts: Especially Perilous

Of those who own cars, only about 19 percent check and inflate their tires properly, and one in four vehicles have at least one seriously underinflated tire. Underinflation has been called “the easiest way to kill a tire.” If you have a blowout, an underinflated tire may also be the easiest way to kill a person. It’s been estimated that blowouts cause around 400 deaths in tire-related crashes annually.

Tire-related crashes involving large trucks often happen because of blowouts. Between 2009 and 2013, almost 16,000 people died in roughly 14,000 fatal crashes that involved large trucks and buses. The numbers show that tires were a factor in 223 deaths.

Tire blowouts upset a truck’s balance. A truck’s high center of gravity, when combined with a shifting load and possible driver overreaction, can easily create rollovers and other disasters. Truck drivers can lose control simply by trying to pull their vehicle over to the shoulder.

Other vehicles that can have a high center of gravity, such as pickups and SUVs, can also be vulnerable to balance problems and the resulting problems when a blowout occurs.

Tire-Related Accident Scenarios

Tires can malfunction in any number of ways if you don’t take care of them properly or if you use the wrong tire for your vehicle. Some common examples of accidents that occur because of tire problems are:

  • A tire goes flat suddenly, perhaps from hitting something in the roadway, causing a loss of control.
  • A tire throws a tread, which can be dangerous not only to the person driving the vehicle but also to other vehicles on the road.
  • Tires that are rotted from age or are worn are especially dangerous in slippery or wet conditions because they have very little tread to help them grip the road.
  • Tires can explode when the weather is hot if they are underinflated or overinflated, causing the driver to lose control.

Using different sizes and types (P or LT) of tires on all your vehicle’s wheels is a recipe for disaster. An engineering manager, T.J. Tennent, with Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, told of a fatal SUV crash caused by mismatched tires, types, and air pressures: “All four tires were different sizes and constructions, so what the owner did was continue to put the air pressure that was on the door placard in all four of those tires. The problem with that is, because those tires were not only four different sizes, they were also two different constructions – P-metric and LT. And it’s the load that determines the air pressure, [but because] they were four different sizes and different constructions, they required different air pressures.”

Load Ratings—What Are They?

A number of us understand which sizes and types of tires to buy for our vehicle and how to maintain them properly. But load ratings may not be something you have run across, and they are critical to the integrity of your tires if you often tow loads or carry extra cargo.

Tires generally have the maximum load which can be carried by a tire imprinted right on the sidewall. This is called the load rating, and the maximum number applies only if the tire is properly inflated. An example load rating on a tire sidewall is “Max Load 1300 Lbs.”

But sometimes tires also have a load index number, which makes things a little more complicated. For passenger cars and light trucks, the numbers run from 70 to 126 on P-metric tires (that is, the tire’s label begins with the letter P) and are also followed by a letter. A tire with a load index of 89 can carry roughly 1,279 pounds. The larger the tire’s load index number, the more weight the tire can carry.

Tire labels that begin with LT (light truck) or ST (special trailer service) instead of P have two load indices on the sidewall. An example label is LT235/75R15 104/101S. The load index is 104/101, meaning that the tire can carry either 1,984 pounds or 1,819 pounds, depending on how it is used. LT tires are often used on trucks that have dual rear wheels; the first number (101) is the maximum load for a single-wheel axle, and the second number (104) applies to a dual-wheel axle.

Using the proper, correctly inflated tires are critical to driving safety. If you are in a crash, negligence by the other party when it comes to tires can be grounds for a personal injury case.

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

If you or a loved one has been involved in any type of vehicular crash, whether commercial truck or passenger vehicle, we suggest you talk with the Indianapolis vehicular accident lawyers at McNeely Stephenson. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit the highest standards of client care to your case. Contact Mike or Brady today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.