A Lesser Known Cause of Car Accidents: Weak Tires
Have you ever stopped to think about how important your car tires are? After all, the tires are the only part of your car that touches the ground. They help us stop when approaching a traffic signal and when the car ahead brakes suddenly, and they play an enormous role in ensuring our safety during nasty weather.
However, tires need to work efficiently for you to get from point A to point B safely, and many Americans are driving cars that are outfitted with weak tires. The Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that approximately 70% of vehicles have at least one underinflated tire. A single underinflated tire may not seem like a big deal, but proper tire inflation maximizes tire efficiency and can mean the difference between a safe arrival at your destination or a devastating accident.
Each year, about 11,000 tire-related crashes occur. Many of these wrecks results from either tire underinflation or worn-down tread. Experts also estimate that 200 people die annually from weak-tire accidents.
Weak Tires and Their Consequences
Over time, tire quality has improved, and today’s tires — from the manufacturing processes to the materials — are better than ever. Consequently, many car owners don’t give a second thought to maintaining their tires because they have such faith in their quality and integrity.
In total, U.S. drivers’ car tires rack up 3 billion miles of travel each year. Chances are, many of those miles are put on weak tires, putting you and others on the road at risk. These weak tires can compromise your safety in a variety of ways, including:
- Compromised road grip: Weak tires with worn-down tread have a weaker grip on snow- and ice-covered roads and increase your vehicle’s risk for hydroplaning.
- A fire: When a tire is underinflated, certain parts of the tire and wheel that shouldn’t come in contact end up touching and rubbing against each other. As a result, excess heat builds up, creating a potential fire hazard.
- Blowouts: Under- and overinflated tires can lead to sudden and unexpected blowouts, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and potentially crash.
- Difficulty stopping: Bald tires with worn-down tread can compromise your car’s ability to brake effectively.
- Maintenance issues: Uneven wheel alignment and balance due to weak tires can eventually cause additional and expensive maintenance to your vehicle.
Sometimes tires are weak not because of poor vehicle maintenance but because they are defective. In this case, it is the responsibility of both car and tire manufacturers to correct the problem. Prior to market introduction, manufacturers are supposed to check tires thoroughly for safety. Sometimes, though, manufacturers fail to catch these defects prior to market release and need to recall the tires later in order to correct the problem.
Given how important tire quality and integrity are, it’s surprising how many people don’t understand the basics of tire maintenance. Consider the following facts:
- Only 9% of cars have all four tires properly inflated.
- 83% of car owners don’t know how to properly check tire pressure.
- 66% of drivers never check the spare tire.
- 50% of vehicle owners can’t discern if a tire is a bald.
Routine tire upkeep is critical when it comes to keeping you and others safe, maintaining tire quality and integrity, and extending the life of the tire. To decrease your risk for a tire-related crash, make sure you incorporate the following tips into your car maintenance routine:
- Check tire pressure: Experts suggest checking each tire’s pressure once per month. If your local climate often experiences extreme variations in temperature over a short amount of time, you may need to check tire pressure more often, as temperature affects tire pressure.
- Replace tires regularly: While new tires can be expensive, making sure your tires are in good working order is important for your safety. Tires need to be replaced about every three to four years or after 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
- Don’t ignore recalls: Take action immediately if you receive a recall notice for your tires. A recall means there is a serious and potentially dangerous issue with the tire.
- Spare tire: Keep a spare tire in your car at all times. A spare tire is not only important in the inconvenient case of a flat tire, but it can also be crucial for your safety.
- Routine maintenance: Rotating tires, checking wheel alignment, and correcting tire balance every 5,000 to 7,000 miles will help keep your tires working safely and properly. If you notice any strong vibrations, unusual thumping noises, or your vehicle pulling to one side while driving, get these issues checked out right away, as your vehicle may be off-balance or out of alignment.
- Educate others: Every driver should know the fundamentals of tire safety. If there are people in your life who don’t know how to check tire pressure, put air in their tires, or replace a flat, offer to share what you’ve learned with them.
Hossley Embry: Attorneys for Injury Victims
The personal injury attorneys of Hossley & Embry know how important tires are for vehicle safety, which is why we advocate for tire safety awareness and education among the general public. Unfortunately, even the most vigilant and safety-conscious people can suffer harm when negligence enters the picture.
If you have been injured due to a defective tire or other automotive product issue, please call us at (866) 522-9265 or complete our brief online contact form. One of our primary areas of focus is offering legal representation to victims of defective products. We provide free consultations and have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.
Be tire wise. (2013). Safecar.gov. Retrieved from https://www.safercar.gov/tires/index.html
Survey shows America needs inflation. (2014, June 2). Rubber Manufacturing Association. Retrieved from https://rma.org/news/survey-shows-america-needs-inflation
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.