During the past five years nearly 3,400 people died in tire-related accidents, which is why federal safety officials are warning drivers to check their tires.
In a consumer advisory issued Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation urged all motorists to inspect their tires for proper inflation and signs of tread wear and damage before driving in hot weather.
The advisory coincides with National Tire Safety Week, which is June 5 to 11, and as driving increases with the kick-off of the summer travel season.
“As the weather warms up, it’s especially important for drivers to ensure their tires are properly inflated,” Secretary Ray LaHood said on a statement. “For your safety and the safety of others on the road, inspect your tires regularly and maintain the proper inflation.”
The latest data from the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that during the five-year period from 2005 to 2009, nearly 3,400 people died, and an estimated 116,000 were injured, in tire-related crashes.
“While it’s true improperly maintained tires can contribute to a crash at any time of year, it is particularly critical for motorists to check tires during hot weather, when families and luggage often overload vehicles for long vacation trips,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement. “Underinflated tires spinning on hot asphalt for extended periods of time can be a recipe for disaster.”
The department urged motorists to check their tire pressure before long trips and to inspect tires periodically.
Motorists should also be aware that aging tires and hot weather can be a potentially deadly combination, as older tires are more susceptible to heat stress, especially if they are not properly inflated, according to DOT. Motorists should check the tire sidewall to see how old their tires are, and to check with the tire manufacturer or the vehicle owner’s manual for recommendations on how often to change tires.
Properly inflated tires will also improve a vehicle’s fuel economy and help stretch the family dollar at the gas station, according to DOT. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 PSI (pound per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires.
For example, for a vehicle with a fuel-economy rating of 30 miles per gallon and a 35 PSI tire pressure recommendation, a drop of 25 percent in tire pressure would equate to a loss of 8.8 percent in fuel economy, or a drop of 2.6 miles per gallon.
For more information on tire safety, go to NHTSA’s safety website www.safercar.gov
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.