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Tires and Summer Heat Can Prove Fatal Combination

Jul 3, 2013 - Birmingham, Car Accidents by

A crash recently in Central Florida claimed the lives of two developmentally disabled women, one in her late 70s and another in her 40s, who were being transported back from a day trip in a van when a tire blew out on the interstate, causing the vehicle to flip.tires1

Our Birmingham accident attorneys understand that in addition to the two women killed, two others, both staffers, were severely injured in the wreck.

According to a spokesman for the agency, the van tires had been inspected prior to the trip. One of the tires was replaced when mechanics who, initially inspecting the vehicle for an oil change and windshield wiper replacement, noticed it had dry rot. However, it was a different tire that blew. The agency spokesman insists the vehicle was inspected after that tire replacement and was found to be “in good shape,” adding that the firm’s vans are routinely inspected, particularly prior to longer trips, such as this one.

Assuming the agency’s contention is true, it’s not clear what else it may have done to prevent this tragedy. It’s possible that the mechanic who inspected the vehicle and gave it the green light could be held liable.

What we do know is that bad tires rolling on steaming asphalt for hours at a time can certainly result in significant dangers. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association has issued a warning as we enter the height of the summer travel season.

While improperly inflated tires can have serious consequences at any point during the year, it’s particularly important for motorists to check their tire inflation, tread and overall condition during hot weather, especially in preparation for a longer trip. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said not only do families tend to overload vehicles for longer trips, but the heat stress on the rubber can weaken the integrity of the tires.

If you know your tires are older, have them checked out before your trip.

The NHTSA reports that, between 2005 and 2009, some 3,400 people were killed and another 116,000 seriously injured in crashes related to faulty tires. In all, bad tires are deemed responsible for about 11,000 crashes annually.

Keeping your tires properly maintained can help to improve traction, stopping, steering and load-carrying capabilities – not to mention it improves gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent.

To prevent the failure of your tires, the NHTSA recommends the following:

Follow the pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) tire pressure recommended for your vehicle by the manufacturer.
Buy a tire pressure gauge to keep in the vehicle with you, and check it at least once a month.
If you have a tire pressure monitoring system in your vehicle, make sure you know where the warning light is on your dashboard and don’t ignore the warning if it appears.
Monitor the tread on all of your tires. If the tread is down to 2/32 of an inch or less, your tires aren’t safe and you should have them replaced. To know whether your tires meet that test, put a penny upside down in the tread of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.

Additional Resources:

LARC accident: Van, tires judged OK before trip, July 1, 2013, By Mike Braun, The News-Press

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