You may not think much about your tires because they generally last for years without giving you problems, but they are critical to a safe ride. Around 11,000 accidents occur annually because of bad tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Faulty tires can literally steal your life: tire-related crashes in 2015 alone took the lives of 719 persons.
Let’s run through some tire basics.
Checking tire inflation is the easiest and cheapest way to make sure your tires are operating within the proper parameters. Less than one-fifth of passenger vehicle owners (19 percent) check to ensure that their tires are properly inflated. There is at least one significantly underinflated tire on one-fourth of all passenger vehicles. Underinflation will wear out your tires and can cause deadly blowouts more often than any other factor. It’s estimated that around 400 deaths due to blowouts happen annually. The problem is especially pronounced in warmer weather; mid-May through early October is generally considered “tire blowout season.”
Overloading is another way to damage a tire. To be certain that you are not putting too much weight on your tires, be sure you know their load rating. Crucial for tire integrity, load ratings tell you how much weight each tire can handle. If you regularly carry cargo or tow loads, knowing your tires’ load ratings is a must.
How do you do that? You read the data on the sidewalls of your tires. The maximum number applies only when tires are properly inflated, so always check inflation before you tow or carry a load. You might see something on your tires similar to “Max Load 1200 Lbs.” It means that, if all four of your tires are the same, they can carry 4,800 pounds (1,200 x 4). If your vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds, then you can safely tow or carry only 800 additional pounds.
Age is another factor when it comes to tire problems. Many new tires these days are good for at least 50,000 miles. If you are someone who doesn’t drive many miles each year, you might think that you can keep going on your tires for 10 years or more—but that’s not true. After as little as 6 years, regardless of mileage or the appearance of the tire’s tread, age begins to take a significant toll. Over time, a tire degrades, reducing the ability of the tire’s belts to remain intact. A catastrophic crash can be the result.
Potholes can also kill a tire and cause a blowout if you hit one hard enough, especially if the tire is underinflated or too old.
Finally, using tires of different sizes and types on your vehicle is a recipe for tragedy: don’t do it. If more than one tire needs replacing, consider buying four new ones to make sure all of them are the same size and type.
Example Tire-Related Crashes
Tire malfunctions can occur for a number of reasons, such as using the wrong size for your vehicle or not maintaining them properly. Here are some common situations where tires can cause you to crash:
- Your tire throws a tread. This situation is dangerous both to you and to other vehicles, which might be struck by the flying tread.
- Your old, rotted, or worn tires have little tread. Therefore, during wet or slippery conditions, they cannot sufficiently grip the road’s surface.
- It’s a hot day and at least one of your tires is overinflated or underinflated. This situation is a recipe for a blowout, which can mean a loss of control and a crash.
- Your tire hits something and goes flat abruptly, causing a loss of control and a crash.
If you feel as if you don’t know enough about your tires, the NHTSA has some important fact sheets for you. One sheet is a FAQ for tire buyers; one covers tire maintenance.
Special Danger with Trucks
Faulty tires can be a factor in vehicular crashes where negligence is involved, especially when the crash is caused by bad tires on a large truck. Blowouts on large trucks often cause tire-related crashes. Between 2009 and 2013, 223 persons died in large-truck crashes because of tires. Often blowouts play havoc with a truck’s high center of gravity, meaning the risk of a disastrous loss of control and a rollover.
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Have you been injured in a crash, and suspect negligence by the other party? The South Carolina car accident lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in accident and personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a crash where another party was at fault, South Carolina law entitles you to hold that party legally responsible for your medical expenses as well as any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is already running, so contact the Louthian Law Firm for help by calling us at 1-803-454-1200. If you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.
Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia with his father, Herb, since 1985. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina, Bert launched his legal career in his father’s firm. With 80 years of legal experience between them, Louthian Law, P.A. remains Family-Owned and Family-Focused.
Bert understands that when life goes wrong – when you or someone you love gets hurt or suffers a loss, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. He gets up and goes to work every day to prove that feeling wrong – and does everything in his power to make things right again.