Since 2008, all new vehicles must have an automatic tire pressure monitoring system — a requirement that has decreased the occurrence of tire blowouts. Blowouts still do occur, however, resulting in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities annually, according to government statistics.
To help prevent blowouts, drivers need to make sure their vehicle’s tires are properly inflated, the treads aren’t excessively worn, and the vehicle is never overloaded. Tire pressure should be checked on a regular basis.
But it’s also important that drivers quickly recognize the initial signs of a tire blowout and respond properly — without delay or panic. A tire blowout typically results in three key sounds: a loud boom or bang, the sound of air escaping from the tire, and then the flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the pavement.
Here are some tips, provided by Travelers Insurance and AAA, you can pass along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder.
In the event of a tire blowout:
- Stay calm, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel, and maintain a straight course. (When a front tire blows out, the vehicle pulls strongly to one side. When a rear tire blows out, you usually feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle.)
- Don’t slam on the brakes — that could dangerously upset the vehicle’s balance. Simply ease up on the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down gradually.
- Once the vehicle is coasting at 20-25 mph, then gently apply the brakes and pull off the road at a safe location after signaling.
- Shift to “park” and set the parking brake. Activate your emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
- Exit your vehicle only if you’re certain you’re safely off the road and out of harm’s way.
- Follow fleet protocol for contacting roadside assistance, or change the tire if it's safe to do so.
- Keep in mind that a spare tire is only recommended for emergencies and shouldn’t be driven for long distances or at high speeds.
To watch a AAA video on how to respond to a tire blowout, click on the photo or link below the headline.