It's the safety device that connects our vehicles to the ground, without which neither our steering nor breaking commands would be effectively carried out. Tire safety is a critical element of vehicle safety and tire problems can lead to serious, even fatal, accidents. We encourage all of our readers to make tire safety part of their overall maintenance routine. We also know that all too often people are injured due to defective tires or someone else's negligent maintenance decisions, making contacting an attorney a critical step for those involved in tire-related crashes.
This weekend, WJHG reported on a tragic crash that killed three in Chipley. At approximately 7:30 A.M. on Saturday, 49-year-old Martha Bramlet of Freeport was piloting a van carrying 9 other passengers, heading east on I-10. When the vehicle's left rear tire blew out, Bramlet lost control and the van slid towards the grassy median and then onto the opposite side of the highway. As it ran off the other side of the road, the van started to roll and several passengers were thrown out.
58-year-old Patricia Baker, 8-year-old Maliya Chriskon, and 11-year-old Micah Goldsmith, all of DeFuniak Springs, were killed in the incident. Only the driver and a 6-week-old infant had been wearing restraints. As of WJHG's report, one survivor suffered critical injuries, three suffered serious injuries, and two suffered minor injuries. The infant was the only occupant of the van who was not injured in the accident.
Recommendations listed in a Tire Safety Checklist from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") include: checking tire pressure on a regular basis (at least monthly and before long trips); inspecting tires for wear and trauma; and ensuring valve caps are in place. When checking pressure, you should focus on the recommended pressure for your vehicle, not recommendations provided by the tire manufacturer.
You can find the recommended pressure in the vehicle's manual or on the tire safety placard (located on the door edge, doorpost, and trunk lid or glove-box door). It is best to measure pressure when the vehicle is "cold," meaning it has not been driven for three hours. Tread depth is a key element of tire wear. You can look for built-in wear indicators, replacing the tire when the indicator is on the outside of the tread, or use the "penny test": stick a penny into the tread with Lincoln's head pointing inward, you have sufficient tread if it covers part of Lincoln's head but should replace the tire if you can see the top of his head.
Additionally, good driving can help protect your tires. The NHTSA recommends slowing down if you cannot avoid running over a pothole or object in the road. Additionally, avoid running over curbs or hitting the curb when parking.
Never assume a tire-related crash is your fault. While maintenance is important, defective tires play a role in far more accidents than most people realize. Even if the tire defect is not the sole cause of an accident, you may have a product liability claim if the defect contributed to the incident. You may also have a claim if you were hurt as a result of another driver's failure to maintain their vehicle, including their tires, in a safe manner. We can evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether you have a civil claim. Call to arrange a free initial consultation.