Auto Safety and The Tire

In the U.S. millions of people a day drive their vehicles on the nation's roads, highways, and freeways. Their safety is contingent on a number of factors, some of which are under their control and others that are not. Maintaining the tires of one's car is one way in which people can help keep themselves safe while on the road. According to the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, under-inflated tires are responsible for over 200 fatal accidents a year. They also note that an estimated forty-one people in the U.S. die from car accidents involving blown-out tires. Fortunately, tire safety isn't complicated or difficult to accomplish. Before tires can be maintained, however, a person should know how to determine if his or her current tires are safe for driving. Once this has been determined they can either replace them if necessary or keep them in good driving condition.

General Tire Safety

General tire safety is crucial when it comes to avoiding tire-related accidents, injuries and fatalities. Good tire safety begins from the moment that a person purchases a set of tires for his or her vehicle. It is important to use the correct tires for the make and model of the vehicle that is being driven. The manufacturer of the vehicle recommends the correct tire size in the owner's manual. If buying a car from anyone other than a licensed dealership, the size of the current tires should also be checked to ensure that they match what is recommended. Exceeding the tires maximum load can also be a safety issue and can cause damage to the structure of the tire. A person should check the tire's load limit, which is located on its sidewall. Tires should also be rotated every 5,000 miles or as instructed by the owner's manual. Tire rotation will ensure that they are wearing uniformly, which will extend their life. A car that's suspension is not properly aligned can cause damage to tires, such as uneven wear. This should also be checked on a regular basis.

Tires must also be properly inflated to prevent them from being damaged and also to prevent accidents. Using a tire gauge, a person should check the air pressure in each of their vehicle's tires at least once a month. Tires should also be checked if planning to drive a long distance. When checking the tire's pressure, a person should also get into the habit of performing a visual check of the tires. This is accomplished by looking at each of the tires for any visible problems, such as bulges or cracks, signs of tread separation, or excess tread wear. A person should also look for foreign objects that may be embedded in the tire. This is particularly important if tire pressure is regularly low.


When a tire is punctured, it loses air pressure and becomes flat. When this occurs a person may lose control of their vehicle under certain circumstances. A tire may go flat gradually or it may occur suddenly. If a flat occurs while driving, a person must slow down and pull their vehicle off the road as soon as it is possible. To prevent accidents from occurring, people should never continue driving once a tire has gone flat. Most often cars will have a spare tire that can be swapped for the flat in an emergency. Every driver, regardless of age or gender, should learn how to change a tire. The necessary tools should also be kept on hand; this includes a tire iron, a jack, and a lug wrench. Taking simple precautions may prevent flats from occurring. Drivers should take certain precautions, such as avoiding debris on the road and checking tires for damage prior to driving.


Wet, rainy weather presents a number of safety problems for drivers, including the potential for hydroplaning. When driving over water during rainy weather, the amount of contact between tires and the road decreases until the car is gliding on top of the water. Typically this occurs when a vehicle travels at speeds of 50 miles per hour or greater. Older tires, particularly those with less tread, may begin to hydroplane at lower speeds. When a car hydroplanes the driver can do little to regain control of the vehicle until the tires come into contact with, and grip the road. It is important for drivers to stay as calm as possible, keep their foot off of the brakes and to not attempt to steer the car. While speed plays an important role in hydroplaning, so does the quality of the tire. If the tread of a tire is low, it is unable to displace the water as needed and it is unable to grip the road.

Aged Tires

When contemplating vehicle safety, it isn't often that people think about the age of their tires. Tires do, however, age and can become a safety hazard on the road. Even the tires on vehicles that are rarely driven will need replacing due to age. Factors such as climate and chemicals in the rubber typically play a part in the degradation of car tires. When a tire is aged, it can become structurally unstable and problems such as tread separation may occur. This could result in car accidents. To reduce the safety risk associated with aging, replace tires approximately every six years. The best way to determine how old they are is to look on the sidewall of each of the tires. On the sidewall there is series of numbers that begin with the letters "DOT." This is the identification number. The week and year of manufacture is represented by the final four digits in this number

Tire Tread and the Importance

Tire tread is one of the most important features of the tire. Its job is to channel water, grip the road, and dissipate heat. When tread becomes worn, the tires are no longer capable of successfully doing their job and the consequences can be deadly when driving. The tires can become too hot, or during wet weather there is decreased traction and hydroplaning occurs. To prevent accidents from occurring because of bald or worn tires, drivers must stay aware of how much tread their tires have. This can be done by performing a simple test that uses a quarter and a penny to check tread depth. When the car is parked, set a quarter head down into the tread. If the top of the President's head is visible, the driver should be prepared to replace the tires soon. The same should be done with a penny. If the top of the President's head is visible this time, the tread is worn to point that it must be replaced as soon as possible.

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