The Dangers of Inadequate Tire Safety
How to stay safe on the road is a common topic in Oregon and throughout the United States. Law enforcement officers appear in television and radio advertisements advising us to wear seatbelts and cautioning us about dangers, such as reckless driving and distracted driving. Warnings against driving under the influence of alcohol and other intoxicants are omnipresent. Statewide and local police agencies set up radar and roadblocks to detect and deter speeding and other dangerous behaviors.
But what about tire safety? How many accidents are caused by bad tires? The topic doesn’t seem to have the same cachet as other motor vehicle safety issues, but tire safety is just as important. We’ll discuss the issue further in this article.
Notable Tire Safety Statistics
Tire safety statistics provide sobering proof of the role of tires in safe driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 738 people died in tire-related motor vehicle crashes in 2017. Thousands more were injured.
In a Crash Causation Survey, NHTSA further determined that in 1 out of every 11 U.S. motor vehicle crashes, a tire issue existed before the crash. This amounts to approximately 9 percent of total crashes. Common problems included blowouts, underinflation, bald tires, and separations.
We’ll explore each of these causes in greater detail below.
- Worn Tires – According to Consumer Reports, the NHTSA examined the tires on 11,500 cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. The study determined that 10 percent of the vehicles had at least one bald tire, defined as one or more tire grooves reaching 2/32 of an inch in depth (compared to 10/32 on a new tire). Fifty percent of the vehicles had at least one tire in which the tread was half-way worn down. It’s well-accepted that bald tires are seriously dangerous in wet weather. Because the grooves are not deep enough to channel water, hydroplaning can occur. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports research finds that even when a tire’s tread is only 50 percent worn, it can lose meaningful traction. This is particularly important in snow or rain.
- Old Tires – Tread depth is important, but it’s not the only metric automobile owners should monitor. The rubber in tires can break down as time passes. Cracks can develop and the tire tread and steel belts can separate, leading to crashes, death, and personal injury. This can occur regardless of the amount of tread remaining on the tire. The NHTSA states that aging can occur more rapidly in warm climates and when a tire is exposed to coastal climates and sunlight. There are no specific government guidelines on how long a tire will last, and car and tire manufacturers have differing opinions. Some say to replace tires no later than six years after they are manufactured. Some manufacturers recommend inspections after just five years.
- Underinflated Tires – According to Safe Bee, NHTSA tire safety statistics show that 11,000 motor vehicle crashes involving underinflated tires occur every year, as well as 200 deaths. Underinflated tires can lead to overheating, which results in tire damage that can cause loss of control, accidents, and dangerous crashes. What’s more, data shows that many drivers do not know what their tire pressure should be or how to check it.
- Blowouts – Blowouts can be a normal part of driving, but can also be dangerous when they occur at high speeds or cause an inability to control a vehicle. Underinflation, overloading, potholes, and road hazards are common causes of blowouts. However, some blowouts and other tire problems are caused by manufacturing defects, and may even warrant a products liability case.
An important point to remember is that many of these issues are totally preventable. Read on to find out how to stay safe through tire danger prevention.
When it comes to tire safety, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Experts recommend that we check the tread condition of our tires and monitor inflation at least once a month to stay safe.
If you’re not sure about the proper inflation for your tires, there are lots of great resources for learning about tire pressure gauges and how to check tire pressure.
Call Us with Your Tire Safety Questions
All drivers owe a duty to society to reasonably maintain their cars and tires so that they are not a danger to others. Manufacturers also have a duty to provide us with safe tires that are free from defects.
It’s clear from tire safety statistics that another driver’s dangerous tires - or a manufacturing defect - can be responsible for accidents in which you’re injured. The personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience investigating these issues and would be happy to answer your questions or help you investigate. In the final analysis, the only way to keep everyone safe is to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.