Surviving a tire puncture and what to do next

Sometimes when tires deflate, they do so suddenly and violently. Also known as a blowout, this sudden loss of tire air pressure presents a dangerous situation at highway speeds. If, or when, this happens to you, will you know what to do?

What is a tire puncture?

A Truck Tire Puncture | Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images

A tire puncture usually results from a torn tire sidewall or tire failure due to a separation in the tire construction. You may hear a loud bang or boom coming from underneath or outside your car, feel the car drop as it comes to rest on the steering wheel without the tire holding it off the pavement, and your steering wheel will likely shake. and start pulling to one side or the other. You may also see pieces of your tire fly off or get on the road when you look in your mirrors.

Are rashes fatal?

A 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study focused on passenger vehicles found that before tire pressure monitoring systems became widespread, tire-related incidents such as flat tires and blowouts contributed to approximately 10,275 non-fatal injuries, 78,392 motor vehicle accidents and approximately 414 fatalities.

The most significant danger during an eruption is losing control of your vehicle, causing contact with another car or driving off the road, overturning or hitting a roadside object. Maintaining control of your car during a flat tire is the most important factor in surviving a flat tire and depends on how you react to it while driving. A few simple tips should help.

Can you survive an eruption?

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Surviving a tire blowout depends on your ability to maintain control of your vehicle during the event. Allstate provides the following guidance:

  1. Stay calm. Your car could jerk violently and pull to one side. Overcorrection could cause you to crash.
  2. Do not use your brakes. “This will cause your wheels to lock up and lead to a complete loss of control,” Allstate reports.
  3. “Accelerate slightly and steer as straight as possible,” Allstate added.
  4. Once you have control, gently take your foot off the accelerator to allow your car to slow down on its own. The burst tire will effectively slow down the vehicle.
  5. Turn on your emergency hazard lights.
  6. “Go into the right lane and stop when it’s safe,” Allstate added. Be sure to park as far back as possible on a wide shoulder area to allow room for changing the tire. Call the police or a roadside assistance service if it is dangerous to do so.

According to Car and Driver, underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire blowouts. Low tire pressure allows the tire to flex under the weight of the car. This flex builds up excessive heat at highway speeds, causing the tire construction to fail. Keeping your tires properly inflated is the best thing you can do to prevent flats.

Does the insurance cover tire punctures?

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Your car insurance policy may cover tire blowouts and any resulting damage to the vehicle in certain situations. However, every car insurance company and every policy is different, so it’s best to check with your insurance agent. If you purchased your tires new, you may have purchased a road hazard warranty policy that covers your tires in the event of tire damage due to impact while driving, and it may also pay for damages due to under-inflated tires.

RELATED: How does a tire pressure monitoring system work?

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