Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that have continual contact with the road. However, tire maintenance is an often-overlooked component to road safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributes more traffic fatalities to tire defects than cell phone distraction. On average, defective tires are a factor in more than 700 deaths per year. In the past six years of reports, cell phone distraction was a factor in fewer than 500 deaths per year.
According to tires-easy.com, tire defects can occur for a number of reasons:
- Under-inflation: Tires tend to flex along the sidewall which can cause excessive heat to build up. Over time, the rubber starts to break down, resulting in a sidewall rupture or tread separation. The risk of damage doubles when driving at high speeds during hot weather.
- Irregular wear: When the wheels on a vehicle are out of alignment, wheels may be tilted inward or outward. This results in tire wear on one side, which creates the risk of poor traction and the potential for a tire blowout.
- Potholes and road debris: Typically, tires are able to dissipate the shock of impact when a car runs over a pothole or road debris. However, at a high speed, the impact may be too much for the tire to handle. The sidewall can become compressed, causing a rupture or tearing off a chunk of tire.
Tire wear and under- or overinflation can be dangerous:
- Poor traction: When tires start going bald, drivers are at a heightened risk of hydroplaning in large puddles or skidding during slippery road conditions.
- Loss of air pressure: When tires lose air, drivers may have a more difficult time steering.
- Tire blowouts: When a tire suddenly blows, drivers can lose control of their vehicles. Sudden blowouts can occur when a tire makes contact with a nail or other sharp object. Long-term wear and tear can also cause a blowout to occur when a weakened area of the tire finally gives way.
In many cases, tire failure can occur through no fault of the vehicle driver. In 2018, several drivers experienced tire blowouts on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City due to a road construction project. One driver experienced blowouts on all four tires and “credits his extra-durable run-flat tires with saving his life.”
Brian Taylor, a Division Engineer at Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), attributes the tire blowouts to “hard bumps” created by temporary concrete panels used to patch the road. He states, “As a result of the rain and heavy traffic volume and the loads from those traffic volumes those panels began to move and once those panels moved it increased the roughness.”
Who can be held responsible for an accident caused by tire failure?
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by tire failure, it’s important to first examine the factors involved when determining who was at fault. Responsible parties could include:
- The driver of the vehicle: Drivers who fail to replace bald or defective tires are at risk of causing a crash. While having defective tires may not completely prove negligence, they can be used as evidence when piecing together a claim. For example, a driver may have continued driving a vehicle that failed inspection due to faulty tires.
- Tire manufacturer: If you purchased tires that were defective and it resulted in an accident, the manufacturer can be held accountable, especially if there was a recall on the tires.
- Other party: The incident involving several tire blowouts on I-35 is an example of how another party can be held responsible for damages. In this case, the construction company performing road maintenance was the culprit. In other cases involving road defects, a local municipality can be held accountable.
An experienced car accident attorney at Lawter & Associates Attorneys at Law PLLC can examine the details of your crash and help you build a solid claim. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.