Spend any time travelling on a highway, and you are sure to see the remnants of a blown tire or separated tread lying along the roadside. Often these "tire carcasses" come from large trucks, but passenger vehicles are certainly not exempt from tire blowouts. A blown tire is extremely dangerous, posing a threat to the vehicle's occupants as well as other travelers who happen to be nearby when blowout occurs. As our Panama City accident attorney knows all too well, blown tires can lead to terrible tragedies.
Last week, Northwest Florida Daily News reported on a local wreck caused by a blown tire. On May 21, 19-year-old Andrew Gibson was driving a 2004 Ford SUV eastbound on Interstate 10 near Milton. The vehicle's right rear tire blew, causing Gibson to lose control. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the SUV swung onto the south shoulder and overturned. Emergency responders transported Curtin, who had been wearing his seatbelt, to Sacred Heart Hospital in serious condition. Estimates put the damage to the SUV around $8,000.
In the course of their rulemaking process (specifically, the 2004 process of evaluating a rule mandating a tire pressure monitoring system in new vehicles), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), reviewed the threat of tire blowouts. The NHTSA found that blowouts and flats in light vehicles (passenger cars, SUV, pickup trucks, and other vehicles under 10,000 pounds) cause 414 deaths and 10,275 non-fatal injuries each year.
The agency noted that a number of different factors can contribute to a blowout, including improper tire inflation, speed, and carrying too much weight in the vehicle. Overall, punctures (which may include potholes) were the most common immediate cause of blowouts. In front tire blowouts, the vehicle may swerve, resulting in the vehicle veering off the roadway or into another lane, potentially leading to a head-on crash with oncoming traffic. Rear tire blowouts can cause the driver to lose control and may lead to a spin-out.
Maintaining proper tire pressure is one of the best ways to prevent tire blowouts. Your owner's manual contains the correct pressure for your vehicle. You can also prevent blowouts by not overloading your car, which puts too much weight on the tires. If a blowout occurs, a quick and calm response is crucial to preventing injury. According to online insurance provider Essurance, a front blowout may feel like the car is jerked towards the blown tire and a rear blowout is often felt in the car's seat and/or body.
If you suspect a blowout, try to stay calm and avid panicking. Grip the steering wheel firmly with both hands and continue to steer in the direction you wish to go. It you can do so safely, turn on your hazard lights. Do not slam on the brakes. Slowly release pressure from the accelerator, releasing pressure too quickly could further destabilize the vehicle's balance. As the vehicle slows, identify a safe place to pull over and steer towards the location. Generally, you should look for any place away from speeding traffic. Stopping in the flow of traffic can cause dangerous, multicar accidents. Once you are safely stopped, call for help.
In more cases than we'd like to think, tire blowout accidents stem from a defect in the tire or the vehicle. If this is this case, even if it is not the only cause, those injured in the crash may have product liability claims. Additionally, if you were hurt (or lost a loved one) when another driver experienced a blowout, you may have a claim if that driver's negligence in maintaining the vehicle led to the blowout and subsequent collision.
If a tire blowout in Northwest Florida caused you injury or led to the death of a close relative, please call our firm. Panama City injury attorney Wes Pittman works with his legal team and with engineering and reconstruction experts to help prove that your injuries were not your fault, and the party (or parties) at fault owe you money.