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Car Accidents

Poorly Maintained Tires Cause Car Accidents

By: Heath C. Murphy +Personal Injury

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[1] released a study which attempted to quantify the causes car accidents. In 94% of the 2,000,000 accidents which were studied, the primary cause of the accident lay with the driver.[2] However, the next most common primary cause of the accidents was tire related. With proper maintenance this issue is almost entirely avoidable. Tires that are worn out are likely to blow out and cause an accident. The car accidents associated with blow outs can be quite serious, as the blow out can occur suddenly and without warning.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is extremely important and needs to be in the car manufacturer’s recommended range. Most people will look to the tire itself to find the appropriate air pressure. This is the wrong place to find this information. The tire pressure, as listed on the tire, is the maximum air pressure allowed for the tire. The tire pressure recommended for your vehicle is listed in the owner’s manual and usually on the driver’s door pillar. The recommended tire pressure for your specific vehicle will almost always be lower than the values listed on the tires.

I know that I already have some of you thinking that there is no harm in overinflating tires, provided the tire itself is designed to handle that air pressure safely. You would be wrong. Overinflating the tires causes less of the tire’s surface to make contact with the road. This is dangerous because it decreases handling and increases stopping distances. Overinflating your tires can make otherwise avoidable car accidents unavoidable.

Underinflating your tires causes a host of problems. It causes wear and tear on the sidewall which can lead to premature catastrophic tire failure. Obviously, a blowout is likely to cause a car accident, but since this is a premature tire failure there may have been no external signs of worn tires prior to the blowout. Underinflating your tires will also cause the tire to wear about 25% faster.[3]

Lastly, tire inflation will change with the temperature and will naturally decrease over time. It is therefore important to check your tire pressure at least once per month. Do not simply look at your tires and try to guess their inflation. It is next to impossible to visually identify different air pressures until they reach a critical point. Tires can be more than 30% under or over inflated before a visual test is effective. Buy an pressure gauge and check the tire pressures monthly. This inspection should be done when the car has been parked for at least 3 hours.

Monthly Tire Inspections

At least once per month, you should inspect your tires for signs of wear. A monthly tire inspection should include:

1. You should visually inspect the outer sidewall for any bubbles or inconsistencies in the rubber;
2. You should check along the outer edge of the tire where the sidewall meets the tread for any signs of separation or failure, such as exposed radial wires;
3. You should run your hands along the inner sidewall feeling for bubbles or inconsistencies in the sidewall;
4. You should check along the inner edge of the tire where the sidewall meets the tread for any signs of separation or failure, such as exposed radial wires;
5. Visually inspect the tread and conduct the penny test on the point wear the tread appears most worn. The penny test is conducted by putting a penny, with Abe Lincoln’s head down, between the tread. If the remaining tread covers any portion of Abe’s head your tires have a safe amount of remaining tread. If not, your tires do not have enough tread to cover reach Abe’s head then they are not safe. Tires with insufficient tread are likely to blow out and cause a car accident.

Remember, when you are feeling the tires with your hands, do so slowly and cautiously as exposed radial wires can cause a nasty cut. In addition to monthly tire inspections, you should always inspect your tires before embarking on a long road trip.

Contact Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg car accident lawyer at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you. We understand traumatic brain injuries and the issues that they can cause in your daily life and our law firm will always work to make sure you are compensated fairly.

Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] http://www.nhtsa.gov/NCSA

[2] http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812115.pdf

[2] http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=1

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio