More than 40,000 Americans died on the roads in 2016, the most significant increase in deaths over a two-year period in more than 50 years.1 Whether someone you love has been known to text and drive, or you have found yourself distracted behind the wheel, these tips can help avoid dangerous activity on the road.
For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats contribute to nearly 11,000 collisions and 700 fatalities each year.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? One reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can only take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to control. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and remembering some tips that can help you maintain control of your vehicle.
What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?
Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.
What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like? When a tire explodes while you’re driving, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst.2 If a front tire burst, you should feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you should feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.
What to Do After a Tire Blowout
After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and if safe to do so, put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time now to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Tire Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.
Learn more about what to do if your car breaks down and other steps to take to help stay safe on the roads.
Teens eager to drive often have parents equally concerned about keeping their new drivers safe. In fact, the rate of fatal crashes per mile driven for teen drivers is 3X that of drivers over age 20.1 The reality is that novice drivers can take years to develop real-world experience behind the wheel.
Until then, parents can set expectations for safe driving behaviors, provide opportunities to practice in a safe environment and stay involved, even after their teen earns a driver’s license. Help teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel by preparing them for risks on the road with this teen driver timeline.
One Year in Advance: Set a Good ExampleStarting long before your teen receives his or her driver’s license, demonstrate the kind of safe driving behaviors you will expect from your teen, including never driving while distracted by technology. It should be an easier conversation when it comes to setting expectations when your teen gets behind the wheel if those expectations reflect your own behavior.
While distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, Dr. Charlie Klauer, who studies teen risk and injury prevention at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has found that the risks are much higher for novice drivers who engage in manual-visual tasks, such as texting while driving.2
Less Than a Year in Advance: Discuss Dangerous BehaviorsParents can help teens understand how certain behaviors behind the wheel may increase the risk of a crash. These behaviors include speeding, tailgating, drowsy driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or while distracted. Engaging in two or more of these behaviors at the same time may greatly increase the risk of crashes, according to Dr. Klauer.3 Parents should discuss the importance of safe speeds, a safe following distance and being aware of potentially dangerous conditions.
Six Months in Advance: Set Specific ExpectationsTalk with your teen about his or her plans for driving. If your teen plans to drive, does he or she plan to drive every day? Does he or she plan on owning a car? Discuss the potential risks of driving, including legal and financial responsibilities, which can include insurance premiums, repair costs and fines for unsafe driving.
Establish the rules of the house, including when and where your teen is allowed to drive, so he or she knows your expectations. For example:
There are also teen driver apps that can monitor driving behavior, including speeding.
Four Months in Advance: Know the Rules of the RoadMany states have extensive learner’s permits and graduated driver’s license laws. It is important to learn the rules and guidelines for your state. Strive not to just meet the minimum requirements, such as hours driven with supervision, but to exceed them. Most state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) offer a driver's handbook, which may also be available online.
Three Months in Advance: Plan for the UnexpectedTalk with teens about what to do if they are in a car accident. Do not assume new drivers instinctively know the basics, such as getting the other driver’s insurance and contact information, calling the police, taking pictures, completing an accident report and notifying your insurance company as soon as possible.
Help them pack an emergency kit for the car and discuss what they will do if their car breaks down on the road, including getting the car to a safe place before they get out. Make sure they have the number for roadside assistance, if you have a service that they can call.
Road Test Day and Beyond: Continue the ConversationStay involved with your teen driver even after he or she gets a driver’s license. Let him or her know it’s okay to ask you for help or for more practice. Encourage your teen to only drive in conditions where he or she feels safe. Continually review the safety guidelines, including prohibition of use of portable electronic devices while driving, which you discussed before they earned their license, so it remains top-of-mind.
Remember, even after a new driver takes the keys, continuing to talk about your expectations for safe behavior can help reinforce good decisions.
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