Drivers who do not maintain their tires may face liability if those tires cause an accident resulting in property damage, injury or even death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website safercar.gov reports that worn tires cause nearly 11,000 crashes and 200 deaths annually.
As tires age, they lose their tread and their structural integrity, increasing the likelihood they could blow out or skid and cause a car accident. And summertime heat makes bad tires worse.
Worn tires create problems with control, braking and ease of handling in a number of situations including:
Heat – The grooves in the tires help with traction and they allow airflow, which helps keep the tires cool. As the tread wears down, tires can heat up. Heat causes tire rubber to break down and fail.
Punctures – A thick tire tread protects the tire casing from being punctured. When the tread is worn thin, a piece of glass, a nail, or metal can cause a puncture. A puncture could lead to a sudden, dangerous blowout and possibly a crash.
Hydroplaning – When it rains, the tires’ deep tread will bite into the water to create traction and hold your car on the road. Worn tire tread will cause your tires to glide across a wet surface, or hydroplane. It doesn’t take much water to cause a car to hydroplane, making it nearly impossible to control.
Leaks – Tires with worn tread are likely to lose air pressure due to leakage, which affects steering, braking and fuel economy.
At fast speeds on busy highways, loss of control due to a blowout, a puncture, or loss of traction could be catastrophic.
A deadly wreck just south of Atlanta in December 2013 has been blamed on faulty tires, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The driver of an F-150 pick-up truck was killed and a passenger seriously injured when the truck overturned on I-75 December 17, 2013. Both the driver and his passenger were ejected from the vehicle in the crash. No other vehicles were involved.
Police said a mechanical issue with the tires may have caused the pickup truck to overturn.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a car with worn, faulty or degraded tires, you may be able to recover damages from the driver whose car is at fault for failing to replace tires that have been recalled or for failing to follow NHTSA guidelines for tire maintenance and replacement.
A tire manufacturer may also be held liable if the tire causing your accident failed due to poor construction or a manufacturing defect.
You can help keep yourself and your passengers safe on the roads by properly maintaining your own tires.
Here are some tips to help you take care of your tires, especially during hot weather months, when they are most vulnerable.
- Follow the recommended tire pressure found either inside your car door or in the vehicle’s instruction manual.
- Tires can lose one pound per square inch – or PSI – per month. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car so you can check your tires to ensure proper inflation.
- Watch for your tire pressure monitoring light system on your dashboard and check your tires if the light comes on.
- Check your vehicle’s instruction manual for specific recommendations for tire replacement.
- Monitor the tread on your tires. The easiest way to measure is to use the “penny test.” Simply place a penny in your tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of the head, your tires are worn down to 2/32 of an inch and are ready for replacement.
- Watch for tread wear indicators such as raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of tread grooves. When you can see those sections, your tires should be replaced.
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident in the Atlanta area due to a tire failure and you believe another driver or a third party such as a tire manufacturer or a repair shop may be at fault, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you determine who is responsible and build a solid case for you.