Thousands of road users are killed or seriously injured each year in Missouri and around the country in motor vehicle accidents caused by tire blowouts. One such accident that attracted widespread media attention took place on Interstate 40 in New Mexico in August 2018. A tire blowout caused a semi-trailer to lose control and cross the median into the path of a Greyhound bus packed with passengers. The ensuing head-on collision claimed seven lives.
Modern tires are extremely robust, and they seldom fail as long as they are properly inflated and checked regularly for wear. Road safety experts say that about 80% of tire blowouts are caused by treads or casings that have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where they can no longer cope with the rigors of driving. Virtually all other tire failures are caused by debris in the roadway. Photographs of the New Mexico crash scene suggest that the truck tire that failed was both dangerously worn and underinflated.
A tire blowout causes a semi to pull sharply in the direction of the failed tire, but this can usually be corrected if the truck driver has been properly trained. A driver’s instinct in this situation is to apply the brakes and counter steer, but this will only make matters worse. Instead, truck drivers should react to a blowout by accelerating gently and applying only enough steering input to maintain a straight line.
When their clients have been injured in truck accidents, experienced personal injury attorneys who are pursuing civil remedies on their behalf may call for a vehicle inspection. An inspection could reveal worn tires, defective parts or faulty safety systems, which could then be used to establish negligence in court. Lawyers may also obtain the information stored on the truck’s data recorder to find out if the driver acted properly.