In 2017, there were over 700 motor vehicle fatalities due to tire-related issues in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The number of traffic fatalities from cell phone use in that same year was just under 500. Tire-related crashes and distracted driving crashes are a serious problem in the United States, and there are steps we can take to minimize our chances of being involved in these types of accidents.
Putting the cell phone down until we reach our destination is priority number one. There are very few phone calls, texts, and emails that cannot wait a few minutes until we can stop the car and safely check our phone.
Distracted driving has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, and with good reason. Drivers, however, also need to be aware of the condition of our tires before heading out each day. A little pre-driving tire inspection goes a long way when it comes to safety.
Do you walk around and inspect your tires every day before you set out to work or school? Probably not. Taking just a few seconds to walk around your car may save you hours later, and it will likely save you money, too.
By doing a quick inspection before getting in your car, you may notice tires that need air or one that is completely flat. You may notice a screw or nail in your tire, or you may realize your tires are bald, which means it’s time to get new ones. Just a quick peek at your tires may prompt you to take action to fix a flat, patch a hole, or buy a new tire to replace an old one. Doing these things before you head out may save you money on a tow truck, an Uber or Lyft, and car repairs.
Under- and Over-Inflation of Tires
Keeping your tires properly inflated is crucial to the longevity of your tires and driving safety. An underinflated tire is unable to maintain its shape and becomes flatter than intended when it comes into contact with the road. If a vehicle’s tires are underinflated by only 6 psi, tire problems may occur. While 6 psi doesn’t seem like much, it usually represents about 20% of the tire’s recommended pressure. Also, the tire’s tread life could be reduced by as much as 25% when tires are not properly inflated. Over-inflated tires are stiff and unyielding and the amount of contact with the road is reduced. If a vehicle’s tires are over-inflated by 6 psi, they could be damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road.
Tire Tread and Sidewall Issues
Your car’s tires are designed and built to grip the road and keep the car in motion by always maintaining that solid grip; the grip on the road is crucial in providing the necessary traction to accelerate or brake. Tread damage occurs when treads are either balding or punctured, which can lead to instability of your vehicle. A major cause of tread damage is excessive usage of the tire, poor braking systems, and driving on rough trails where nails and other sharp objects can’t be seen.
Cracks formed in a tire’s sidewall can lead to deadly crashes. Chemicals used during tire cleaning or pressure washes can cause cracked sidewalls, and overheating of the tire due to lack of air can cause sidewall cracks. Hitting potholes or debris at high speeds is another common cause of sidewall cracks. Cracks often lead to blowouts and serious accidents. The area between the tire and the rim is important when it comes to tire damage. If the rim and the tire fail to link properly at the beading, there will likely be damage that could result in a rapid drop of tire pressure, causing an explosion.
If you’ve been behind a vehicle, especially a semi-truck, that has a tire blowout, you know how terrifying this can be. Tire parts will fly over the roadway and hit other vehicles. People will swerve to miss the debris, which can result in very bad collisions.
Regular tire maintenance by automotive professionals and a quick inspection prior to driving will help ensure you’re getting the behind the wheel of a vehicle that’s safe to drive.