19 Tire Blowout Statistics + Safety Tips

Vehicle crashes due to tire blowouts can be responsible for property damage and raised insurance rates, not to mention personal injury and even death. The following statistics on tire blowouts and crashes are based on the vehicle type as well as pre-crash and road conditions.

Blowout Statistics + Safety Tips

Tire Blowouts and Tire-Related Crashes

This article breaks down the numbers for select states that compile tire-related crash data and offers strategies for tire blowout prevention and tips for maintaining safe tires.

Tire failure causes approximately 11,000 crash statistics
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Vehicle Type, and Pre-Crash and Road Conditions

Three of the main factors that have been found to lead to blowouts are the type of vehicle involved, the state of the tire before the crash, and conditions on the road.

Vehicle Type
  1. A 2012 NHTSA sample study of 5,470 car crashes found that SUVs were the most likely type of vehicle to be involved in a rollover.
  2. In fact, nearly half (45%) of SUVs with pre-crash tire issues rolled over. By contrast, cars, pickup trucks, and vans with pre-crash tire issues rolled over less than 25% of the time.
SUV rollovers due to tire issues

One problem with SUVs is they offer a lot of interior space, so there’s a temptation to overload them with passengers and cargo. This can put extra pressure on tires and cause them to fail. (The same is true with pickups, but because they have a lower center of gravity, they’re less likely to roll over.)

Pre-Crash Conditions
  1. Did you know that a tire is three times more likely to be listed as a critical factor during the pre-crash phase when it’s underinflated by more than 25%?
  2. When looking at a sample of 5,470 car crashes — which reflect 2,188,970 crashes from a national perspective — 9% involved a vehicle with pre-crash tire problems, according to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey.

    Factors that can create problems include:

    • Tire pressure (underinflation)
    • Tire tread depth, as measured to the nearest 1/32 of an inch
    • Previous tire damage, such as tread separation or partition tread separation.
    • Failure to use a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
    • Vehicle body type
    • Overloading vehicles (something to watch for when packing to go on vacation)

Underinflation can cause a tire’s sidewall to flex more because the air pressure isn’t high enough to bear the load of the vehicle, passengers, and cargo. This leads to heat buildup and is especially dangerous on warm days and when you’re traveling at high speeds.

  1. If your tire is more than 25% under the recommended standard (usually 30 to 40 psi), you’re at risk for a sidewall blowout. But in one study, 34% of men and 50% of women said they rarely check their tire pressure.
  2. Tire-related crashes are a particular risk for teenagers. Of the 2.2 million U.S. accidents each year, nearly 300,000 involve teen drivers and are related to tire issues such as worn treads and improper tire inflation.
  3. The good news is that all vehicles manufactured after 2007 are mandated to come with a tire pressure monitoring system. But according to one study, 10% of drivers said they’d intentionally ignored a dashboard warning when they saw one and just kept on driving.
  4. Less than half (42%) of drivers regularly checked their tire pressure, and only 58% could correctly identify the TPMS warning symbol, even though three-quarters (75%) of all roadside flats were preceded by a slow leak or underinflation.

If safety isn’t a good enough argument for paying attention to your TPMS, then consider this: Keeping your tires properly inflated saves gas, which saves money.

Road Conditions
  1. In all, 11% of vehicles in the NHTSA statistics from 2012 experienced tire issues during the pre-crash stage when at least one road condition applied (such as wet or slick road conditions).
  2. Comparatively, only 3.9% of tire issues occurred during the pre-crash stage when there weren’t any inclement road conditions.

    Environmental and road factors that can increase your risk of tire failure include:

    • Wet or flooded roads
    • Slick surfaces
    • Washed-out roads
    • Poorly maintained roads and shoulders
    • Potholes and road damage
    • The month when you’re driving

Tire Blowout Statistics by State

Where you live also can be an important factor in calculating your risk for tire trouble. Weather and road conditions vary a lot from state to state and from one region to the next. A sampling of data from states in different regions shows how these variations can affect your level of risk.

Tire Blowout Statistics by State
  1. 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
  2. Kansas 2019: The state reported 316 tire-related crashes, accounting for 0.4% of total crashes.
  3. 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.
  4. Minnesota 2019: Defective wheels of motor vehicles were involved in 0.1% of pedestrian crashes, the state reported.
  5. Maine 2019: Tires contributed to 424 highway crashes in Maine out of 55,258 total crashes, which amounted to 0.7%.
  6. 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 Blowout Prevention

There’s plenty you can do to mitigate the risk of tire failure and related crashes, by purchasing the proper kind of new tires for your environment, vehicle, and payload. And by conducting regular and proper inspection and tire maintenance, you’ll reduce your safety risk and extend the life of your tires (and possibly yourself).

Making your tires last longer can save you money, too. A 2019 survey from Consumer Reports found that customers were spending a median of $137 per tire — before installation — if they owned a sedan, coupe, hatchback, or minivan; $162 for an SUV tire; and $175 for a pickup tire.

44.9% of American adults have experienced a tire blowout
  • The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your tires are properly inflated and keep them that way. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended PSI, or pounds per square inch. Many newer cars show the actual number for each tire as an option on your dashboard.
  • For maximum life, you should rotate your tires regularly — in most cases, every 5,000 or 7,500 miles. (Check your owner’s manual for the exact figure on your make and model.)
  • Rotation helps your tires wear evenly and last longer. If you own a front-wheel-drive vehicle and don’t rotate your tires, your front tires will wind up more heavily worn than each rear tire. As a result, your car will be harder to control, especially in wet weather.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle, either with too many passengers or too much cargo.
  • And, of course, you should be careful while driving: Be on the lookout for potholes, and obstacles in the road that could damage your tires. Near construction sites and in parking lots, watch for nails, screws, glass, or other debris that could puncture a tire.

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.