Tire Blowouts and Tire-Related Crashes
- An average 33,000 accidents happen annually because of tires, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. At least 2,000 of those are blowout-related.
- ire blowout accidents are more common, and more dangerous, than you might think. One in every 270 crashes (11,000) each year in the U.S. was caused by tire failure between 2000 and 2015, resulting in an average of 200 deaths a year. Those are the results of an analysis performed by the National Automotive Sampling System-Crashworthiness Data System.
- And that’s not the worst of it: In 2017, two years after the period studied by the NASS-CDS, there were 738 fatalities as a result of blown tires in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Whether it’s you or a loved one behind the steering wheel, it’s a good idea to know what you can do to minimize your chances of becoming involved in a car accident caused by a tire blowout, flat tire, underinflation, or other risk factors.
This involves knowing what kind of car to drive, where to drive, and most importantly, how to choose and maintain your tires. The sections ahead will cover each of these FAQs in turn.
Tire Blowout Statistics by State
- Texas 2019: Defective or slick tires resulted in:
- 61 fatal crashes
- 187 suspected serious crashes
- 512 non-incapacitating crashes
- 630 possible injury crashes
- 2,741 non-injury crashes
- 55 unknown severity crashes
- 4,186 total crashes due to defective or slick tires
- Kansas 2019: The state reported 316 tire-related crashes, accounting for 0.4% of total crashes.
- Pennsylvania 2019: There were 915 tire/wheel-related crashes in the Keystone State. Tire- and wheel-related car accidents made up 36% of vehicle crashes.
- Minnesota 2019: Defective wheels of motor vehicles were involved in 0.1% of pedestrian crashes, the state reported.
- Maine 2019: Tires contributed to 424 highway crashes in Maine out of 55,258 total crashes, which amounted to 0.7%.
- New Mexico 2018: The state reported a total of 46,786 crashes with any contributing factors. Among those, defective tires contributed to:
- 6 fatal crashes (1.7%)
- 59 injury crashes (0.4%)
- 190 property damage-only crashes (0.6%)
- 255 total crashes (0.5%)
Tire Safety Tips
So, where does this leave us? Better informed is better prepared. So here’s a roundup of tire safety tips that can keep you safer on the road.
- Choose your tires carefully, to begin with. Well-made tires can last you 60,000 to 80,000 miles if you take good care of them. You’ll want to purchase the best tires for your vehicle and environment. Check consumer ratings, too. Compare one tire manufacturer with the next to reduce the risk of purchasing a defective tire. All-season tires can adapt to different road conditions, but if you’re in an area with frequent, heavy snow, may need to buy winter tires. There are also summer tires for warmer climates, and all-terrain tires for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
- Buy a tire gauge and keep it handy in your car at all times. Air machines at some gas stations come equipped with a digital readout that tracks your PSI as you fill your tires, but you can’t count on those being available everywhere.
- Check your tire pressure at least once per month, and especially before a long trip. Use the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, listed on the sticker of your vehicle’s door jamb or owner’s manual or on your tires’ sidewalls, as a guide.
- Check your tire tread regularly. You can check your tread easily using a penny: If Lincoln’s head is inside the tread, you’re probably OK, but if you can see his entire head, it’s time for new tires. This can work with a quarter, too. You can also use a depth gauge, which you can get at your auto parts store for $3 to $8. The reading should be above 2/32 of an inch.
- Make sure you do not overload your vehicle. Check the manufacturer’s load recommendation, which can be found on the vehicle information placard inside the driver’s side door post, or in the vehicle owners’ manual.
- Rotate your tires regularly (see above).
- Check your alignment to be sure the car isn’t pulling to one side, which can cause uneven tread and sidewall wear, and put extra stress on your tires.
- Have your tire balance checked periodically. If your wheel assembly isn’t properly balanced, it can create uneven wear.
- Inspect your tires visually for signs of deterioration, such as a tear in the sidewall or blisters, which can be created by overheating and cause chunks of rubber to come loose from the tread.
Nothing can guarantee you won’t have a flat tire or blowout, but you can minimize the chances significantly by choosing the proper product, keeping up with recommended tire maintenance, and driving carefully.
Taking these steps can save you money, reduce your chances of breaking down on the road, keep insurance costs from rising because of a claim, and, most importantly, optimize your safety, whether you’re driving around the corner or around the country.