Neglecting Your Tire Pressure Leads To Accidents
Checking your tire pressure is one of the most vital maintenance steps when it comes to keeping your vehicle safe, but most drivers forget to stay on top of it! With snow and icy weather still on the radar for Connecticut this season, it is more important than ever to avoid driving with low tire pressure to avoid unnecessary vehicle accidents that could cause devastating injuries.
Low tire pressure is one of the leading causes of tire failure in the country and results in thousands of injuries every year. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 11,000 injuries and 738 fatalities were caused by tire-related accidents, and these numbers are conceived to be even higher due to classification errors in traffic accident reporting.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), about a third of cars and small trucks on the road are driving with under-inflated tires or with pressure levels below the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. Under-inflated tires severely impact a driver’s ability to control their vehicle, leading to tire failures such as skidding, uneven wear, and blowouts.
Low Tire Pressure Can Be Expensive
It may seem bothersome to pay a low fee for air, but not filling your tires can end up costing you a lot more in the end:
- More gas fill-ups: Cars who run on under-inflated tires get worse gas mileage than cars with adequately filled tires. Low tire pressure causes your car to drive unevenly and in turn, will get have you filing up with gas more often.
- Expensive car maintenance: It costs a lot less to fill up your tires than it does to replace them. Low tire pressure leading to blowouts could result in not only replacing one or more of your tires but paying for expensive maintenance needed from any damage done to the rims or other car parts surrounding the wheel.
- Outrageous medical bills: If you get into an accident that causes injuries to yourself or others, you may be looking at several medical bills for treatments. Vehicle accidents can lead to traumatic injuries to your head, back, or internal organs that could require surgery and long-term recovery measures.
In addition to financial losses, accidents that result from tire failures can lead to catastrophic consequences including fatalities. Understanding the importance of tire maintenance and how to know when/why your tires may be low is the first step to preventing these unnecessary tragedies from happening.
Why Your Tires Might Be Low
When the weather becomes cold, your tires can lose air and cause the low tire pressure indicator in your car to turn on. Some drivers ignore the warning, expecting the problem to resolve when the car warms up. But cold weather is not the only reason why your tires pressure could be low.
Tires can decrease in pressure for several different reasons, including:
- poor tire maintenance
- bad driving habits (harsh stops, quick accelerations)
- poor road conditions
- poor quality materials used to make tires
The invention of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) has dramatically reduced the number of traffic fatalities and injuries over the past two decades, but you can’t rely on these systems as a substitute for manually checking your tire pressure. Sensors used in TPMS systems can stop working correctly from running out of batteries, wiring issues, voltage or electronic failures, corrosion, or recognition errors after a tire rotation. Drivers who wait for the indicator to go on may be driving on severely low tire pressure and putting themselves at risk for a vehicle accident without even realizing.
How To Prevent Low Tire Pressure Accidents
Luckily, most tire-related accidents are entirely preventable when taking the proper maintenance steps before you hit the road. Here are some tips for how drivers can help prevent accidents caused by low tire pressure:
- Check your tire pressure monthly, before a long trip, or when inclement weather is coming.
- Don’t ignore the tire pressure light, even if you just checked the pressure.
- Know what your low tire pressure light looks like.
- Use air pumps that read the pressure as it fills and stops automatically.
- Make sure TPMS sensors are replaced every 5 to 7 years or 60,000 to 80,000 miles.
- Don’t assume cold temperatures are to blame for low tire pressure. Your tires might have already been low before the cold weather hit.
What To Do If Your Tire Blows
Let’s face it- tires do not always cooperate even with the best prevention. If you do experience a tire blowout while on the road, use these safety tips to reduce the risk or severity of an accident:
- Stay calm:
- Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
- Slow down gradually…don’t slam on the brakes!
- Pull over to the side of the road when you hit a safe speed.
- Only exit the vehicle if you are out of harm’s way.
- Turn emergency flashers on.
- Call for roadside assistance if it is not safe to change your own tire.