Arizona’s Deadliest Road Hazard: Tire Blowouts
When you think of the biggest dangers on the road, you might first think of drunk drivers or those who are distracted by texting. But, in reality, one of the biggest dangers is something that can happen at any moment and that you cannot control: A tire blowout.
Sometimes, a tire might suddenly blow because it is in poor condition and the owner neglected changing it. Sometimes, a tire might blow because it is poorly made. The driver could not have done anything to predict or prevent the tire blowout and the potentially deadly accident that it caused.
Recent Arizona Accidents
Several highways run through Arizona. Drivers reach higher speeds on these roads, which increases the potential severity of an accident from a tire blowout. But even at low speeds, a tire blowout can cause an accident with serious and even deadly repercussions. When the tire pops, the car instantly loses its stability. It starts riding on the rim, and the driver loses control of the vehicle.
In July, according to Review Journal’s article “3-car fatal crash in northwest Arizona blamed on blown tire“, the driver of a Ford SUV lost control when a tire blew and crossed the highway into oncoming traffic, hitting two cars head on. One woman was killed instantly.
A New Mexico accident in May, according to KOB 4 News’ article “Deputies: Speed, blown tire also factors in fatal Hwy 550 crash” occurred when the tire on a work truck blew and the driver lost control. As in the July accident, the vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic, hitting another vehicle. The driver was also estimated to be going between 83 and 88 miles per hour. The crash killed the truck driver and a family with two children.
Each year in Arizona, fatal accidents are caused by tires blowing out. Sometimes, these accidents could have been prevented with the right maintenance. Sometimes, they are caused by faulty tires that were not properly vetted.
Understanding Tire Health and Aging
Fortunately, it is easy to understand when you need to change a tire to ensure safe driving. A faulty tire is always the exception, and there is no way to know for certain that a tire you are buying is going to catastrophically fail. The best you can do is evaluate the manufacturer.
The first thing you should look at is tread depth. Over time, various factors will cause the rubber on the tire to wear down, which will cause the tread depth to get shallower. Poor road conditions, aggressive driving practices, and poor alignment can all cause tread depth to wear down faster.
Tires should have a tread depth of 11/32 inch for the best stopping distance. Once the tread depth gets to 7/32 inch, you will need to start looking for a new tire. The tire should be replaced once the tread depth reaches 4/32 inch.
If tires are old, they may have a healthy tread depth but can still be compromised. The rubber can degrade with the passage of time. Oxygen penetrates the rubber and causes it to break down at the molecular level.