Surviving a Tire Blowout

Each year, tire blowouts and flat tires contribute to 700 fatalities and 11,000 collisions with serious injuries. Surviving a tire blowout requires safety skills behind the wheel.

Safety Tips to Survive a Tire Blowout

For most drivers, a tire blowout is a frightening and potentially dangerous experience, especially when the vehicle is traveling at a high speed. Although automatic tire pressure monitoring systems on newer vehicles have helped to reduce tire blowouts, car accident lawyers still see severe injuries and deaths caused by tire blowouts every year on U.S. roads and highways.

When a tire blows out, it only takes about one quarter of a second before the car becomes difficult to control. The car will slow down quickly due to the sudden loss of air pressure, and the tire may come apart and separate from the wheel and rim. If a front tire blows out, the steering wheel usually pulls to the left or right depending on which side of the car the blowout is on. If it’s a rear tire, the blowout is felt more in the body of the car. Either way, the driver must follow important safety measures to survive a blowout:

  • Keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel and holding the wheel straight ahead, so it doesn’t turn left or right.
  • Avoiding slamming on the brakes. Pressing the gas pedal briefly can help stabilize the car in one lane of traffic. The drag from the blown tire will prevent an excessive increase in speed.
  • Preventing the car from stopping in the middle of the road, because this increases the possibility of a side or rear-end collision with another vehicle.
  • Steering the vehicle toward the shoulder of the road using mirrors and turn signals when speed drops to 30 mph or less.
  • Activating emergency flashers when the car reaches the shoulder safely. If there is danger from traffic and passing cars,  drivers should avoid exiting the vehicle.
  • Calling roadside assistance for help changing the tire, or towing the car to a repair shop if the vehicle sustains body damage.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), poor tire maintenance is a major cause of collisions seen by car accident lawyers. Over-inflated and under-inflated tires become imbalanced and fail quicker than properly inflated tires. Drivers should check tire pressure at least once a month, inspect tires for signs of wear, and rotate and balance tires on a regular basis to avoid blowouts.