Tag Archives: Tire Safety

Hot Tires, High Risk… and How to Have a Tire-Safer Summer

Photo of the accident van.
NTSB investigated a hot summer tire blowout crash in July 2001 in Randleman, North Carolina. A 15-passenger van overturned on the highway, killing 1 person and injuring 12 others.

By Amy Terrone, Safety Advocacy Division

When you drive on hot roads at highway speeds your tires get hot. And when your tires get hot, you’re at greater risk for a blowout and potentially a crash. Fortunately, there are ways you can head off the risk before heading off to the beach.

How many times have we driven by a family in a minivan on the side of the road changing their tire in 98-degree weather? Being stranded is no fun, but it can be much worse. Tire blowouts can also lead to a loss of vehicle control and a crash.

According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the summer months of June–August are associated with the highest number of tire-related fatal crashes.

Why the increase in crashes during the summer? A variety of reasons, such as more teen drivers on the road and vacationers navigating unfamiliar congested highways. But another cause is tire blowouts.

Hot tires can lead to blowouts, especially if the tires are underinflated.

NHTSA estimates that tire failure causes about 11,000 crashes a year, leading to more than 600 deaths and about 19,000 injuries. A common cause of tire failure is underinflated tires. Underinflation also leads to sluggish handling, longer stopping distances, and increased stress on tire components. If you need to be reminded of how dangerous a tire blowout can be, check out this video.

Memorial weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. It also kicks off National Tire Safety Week (May 24-30), a week established 14 years ago by the Rubber Manufacturers Association to remind consumers about the importance of tire safety (see Be Tire Smart—Play Your PART). Being safe on the roads means regularly checking tire air pressure, alignment, and tread, and rotating tires.

The NTSB has investigated a number of tire failure crashes, including several in recent years, so we know first-hand the dangers of underinflated and poorly maintained tires. In honor of Tire Safety Week and the start of the summer season, the NTSB released a Safety Alert today outlining how tire registration and periodic maintenance can reduce the risk of crashes.

Please, as you embark on this summer of fun, take a moment to check your tires before loading the car with your camping gear, suitcases, fishing rods, and coolers. It’s a simple act that could save you money and time down the road, and it could also save your life…and that’s no hot air.

“Deflate-Gate” Not Just an Issue for the NFL

By Don Karol

For serious football fans, the two weeks before the Super Bowl are normally a time of building anticipation. They’re a minute-by-minute maelstrom of media analysis and party planning leading up to the game itself, the pinnacle of pigskin, the ne plus ultra of the NFL. It’s the grown-up version of what kids feel on Christmas Eve or the night before their birthdays – for 14 days.

Tire Pressure Check photoThis year the big story is “Deflate-Gate.” Stories like “Why the media are overinflating the football flap” and “Scientists Say the NFL’s ‘Deflate-Gate’ Isn’t All Hot Air“ fill our televisions, monitors, and newspapers.

Every football junkie now knows (and neither knew nor cared to know before January 19) that footballs should be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and that a crew of officials is charged with inspecting each football before a game to ensure that they are properly inflated.

Planning a party for hardcore fans? Ask them what the NFL found out about the footballs in “Deflate-Gate.” They’ll probably tell you without missing a beat that 11 of 12 balls tested were underinflated by two pounds per square inch.

Then ask them when they last checked the pressure of the tires on their vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers in the United States put more than 2.9 billion miles on their tires annually. And, there are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes that claim nearly 200 lives each year. Many of these crashes can be prevented through proper tire maintenance, which, you guessed it, includes proper tire inflation!

The NTSB takes no position on football inflation issues. Tire maintenance is another matter.

So, like the NFL officials who will be taking extra care to ensure that those Super Bowl footballs are in perfect condition Sunday, always make sure that you regularly inspect your tires for wear and defects and of course, ensure that they are properly inflated!

Looking for more information on tire safety visit Tire Wise, Be Tire Smart – Play Your Part and Beyond the Driving Test.

Don Karol is the Director of NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety