If you are a truck owner or driver you know very well how important regular maintenance is for your vehicle. Since your truck drives thousands of miles each year you need to make sure it’s in a perfect condition. As you know, one of the most important parts to check regularly are your truck tires. In a way, they do all the hard work and if not taken care of properly, they can cause you a lot of trouble such as bad as a tire blowout. So make sure you maintain them well.
What can cause tire blowouts?
One of the most dangerous situations a truck driver can experience is a truck tire blowout. It is much more dangerous, but fortunately less common, than a flat tire. It is a sudden burst of the truck tire which can occur when the vehicle is being driven at a high speed.
According to a report conducted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2013 about 16,000 people died in truck or commercial bus accidents and in almost 200 crashes that killed 223 individuals tires were a factor. Unfortunately, the number of fatal trucking accidents due to blown tires have risen steadily over the years (Gray, Ritter and Graham, n.d).
This unexpected rupture of the tire can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and veer of the road or collide with other vehicles. That is why it is extremely important to prevent such situations and learn what to do if they do occur.
If you want to find out what causes truck tire blowouts, how to prevent them and what to do if they happen to you, read on. You will find some very useful tips!
The main cause of truck tire blowouts is a lack of regular maintenance and proper inspections of the tires.
A tire blowout can also be caused by a number of other factors. Defective and worn tires are especially prone to sudden ruptures and explosions when exposed to unfavorable conditions. Some of them include: excessive braking, potholes, bad weather conditions, mismatched tires, low or uneven tire tread, tear, cut or cracks of the tire or improperly recapped tire tread, overloading of the truck, heat, over or under inflation of the tires. Remember that a wrong size of the tires can also be dangerous – whether you are using solid 295/75R22.5 or proper 11R22.5 tires, make sure they are all matching and the size is right for your truck.
You should also make sure that all your vehicle’s parts and tires have passed all the necessary regulations and are suitable for driving. Each month The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes a monthly report listing defective or recalled parts and products. So keep your eye out! Another very important factor causing truck tire blowouts is excessive tire stress. Every trucker should keep that in mind when looking at their speedometer.
As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states, most truck tires can withstand a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph, however many truckers regularly exceed this limit, causing excessive stress on the tires. What’s more, according to US national statistics, speeding truckers are the primary cause for almost one out of every five fatal truck crashes (Gray, Ritter and Graham, n.d).
How to prevent tire blowouts?
Tire blowouts can be very unexpected and dangerous, but luckily they can also be prevented with some extra care and proper maintenance.
According to the FMCSA regulations, trucking companies or truckers should ensure that their vehicles and truck components (including the tires) are regularly inspected on a schedule specified in the FMCSA rules:
- Drivers are required to conduct a comprehensive pre-trip inspection of the vehicle and tires. The trucker should review the last driver’s report and certify that any needed repairs were made.
- Truckers are expected to conduct a post-trip inspection － if there are any maintenance or repair issues, they should be listed on the report.
- Truck drivers are required to inspect their vehicles and tires at the end of each day after driving a truck.
- If its tires are defective, the truck should not be driven. The truck should be marked as out-of-service. It cannot be used until the tires are replaced or repaired.
- Trucking companies should maintain, repair, and replace truck tires as necessary.
- Annual inspections of the entire fleet should be conducted by trucking companies (Hodges, n.d).
So if you are concerned about tire blowouts make sure you follow the FMCSA rules listed above and keep your truck and tires maintained. Good quality, properly looked after tires are less likely to cause you any trouble.
What to do if your tire blows out?
A good driver is the one who is always aware of the situation and looks ahead to avoid any potentially dangerous situations. Unfortunately, we are not always able to plan ahead and control everything – sometimes some sudden and unexpected difficulties arise.
Here’s what to expect when your tire blows out:
- An explosion and flying debris. During a blowout, the tire explodes and is basically ripped apart. This explosion can cause tire treads and tire debris to literally fly around. These pieces can be very heavy moving with a high speed causing danger to vehicles driving next to you.
- Loss of control. The force of the blowout is so strong it can cause your vehicle to lose stability making it difficult to keep control of the steering.
- Lack of stability. When you lose control and the truck becomes unstable, it is possible for the cargo to be released or even fall out if the trailer opens due to the impact of the blowout.
- Panic on the road. Other drivers on the road witnessing a tire blowout can be shocked. It can cause them to panic and make some unexpected decisions. (Tavss & Fletcher, n.d)
A tire blowout can be one of the most dangerous and unexpected events a truck driver can experience. But do not panic! Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to avoid the worst and make sure everyone gets out of that unfortunate situation safely.
Remeber that as a driver you need to stay calm no matter what happens – you have to keep your cool and stay in control of the situation to prevent an accident.
Remember that rule number one is – do not brake! A natural reaction for any driver is to brake whenever something unexpected happens on the road. But try to control your first instinct and do not brake. It can cause the blown tire to drag even harder on the road making the situation worse and more dangerous.
Try to quickly assess the situation – is it a front or back tire blowout? It’s important to know which tire has been damaged to take the right steps.
Action to Take － 7 Safety Steps
- As mentioned above – do not brake. After a tire blowout your vehicle will most likely veer to the side and braking will intensify it.
- This might sound crazy but you should actually… accelerate! This surprising move will stabilize your truck by taking the weight off the blown out tire. It will reduce the damaged tire dragging. It will also reduce the side pull. But be careful － do not acceleratetoo much. Do it until you feel you have regained control over the steering.
- Make sure your cruise control is off.
- Whatever you do, do not let go off the steering wheel. Hold it tightly with both hands. Keep your truck steady and make sure it is moving straight ahead. Slowly ease off the gas.
- Keep your truck in your lane. Don’t try to turn or pull over.
- When you feel that you have got back the control over the steering, allow your vehicle to slow down and eventually come to a stop without using the brakes.
- Turn on your emergency lights.
And remember to stay calm. Tire blowouts can be dangerous but they can be safely managed by a steady driver who remains in control of the situation. As you can see there are many reasons and causes of truck tire blowouts. From bad weather conditions through to mismatched tires and bad under inflation. Fortunately, they can be prevented thanks to regular and proper maintenance. Make sure you inspect your truck and tires regularly and try to remember the seven safety steps listed above － they can really help you!
If you have any questions about tire maintenance or you are not sure how to best maintain them, ask a professional. The right person can advise you on the best practices to keep your tires in good shape, explain how to best maintain them, what to keep an eye on and, if you need new set of tires, they can help you choose the best option for your truck.