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Truck tire blowouts and how to handle them

Published July 13, 2013
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We’ve all seen the ragged debris from the aftermath of a truck tire blowout. There will be large and small chunks or tire carcass spread out all over the road. Some of these pieces of tire can be large enough to do damage to your vehicle.

It’s much more alarming to actually witness a blowout happening, with large or small scraps hurtling towards windshields at frightening speeds.

I have talked to motorists who have struck truck tire debris and those who have been hit by chunks thrown up by other vehicles. Many have reported damaging results.

Truck tires are designed to carry heavy loads and as such their construction needs to be stronger than those for car of light truck use. The sidewalls are thicker and the tread is deeper to carry the extra weight of the cargo plus the eight of the truck itself.

On top of  that, tire pressures are higher than normal vehicles. A transport or gravel truck tire can be inflated to about 110 to 120 psi compared to what we see in personal vehicles of 30 to 40 psi depending on your manufacturer’s recommendation.

So, when a truck tire delaminates and blows, it does so with a lot of violence. Pieces of rubber and tire carcass can be ejected out at high speeds and for great distances (see video, below).

It’s bad enough having to avoid large chunks of truck tire lying on the road. It would be almost impossible to miss tire debris being fired at your vehicle at high speeds.

What can you do you minimize your chances of striking or being struck by truck tire shrapnel? Here are a few tips:

  • Never drive beside or near a truck when possible.
  • If a tire blows out beside your vehicle, look where you want to go, stay calm and steer smoothly off the road if you need to stop to inspect your vehicle.
  • Always stop in a safe area and not near the roadway. Staying well away from trucks is also a primary safety practice for smart driving.
  • Stay father back from the vehicle in front of you. This will give you more time to see truck tire debris and a better chance at avoiding it. Staying farther back also means you won’t be struck by tire chunks thrown up by other vehicles.
  • Smoothly steer around tire debris when possible. Look where you want to go and not at the tire pieces. This will help you avoid striking tire debris safely.
  • Avoid swerving into oncoming traffic whenever possible.

Video: Truck blows a tire

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