Reduce Tire Related Accidents

Date: December 17, 2019

Carrie Kolodji, Risk Control Analyst

How to inspect your vehicle's tires

Safety is critical to everyone on the road. Tires are one of the most important vehicle safety features. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 738 fatalities in tire-related vehicle crashes.

As a driver, you are not only responsible for the operation of the vehicle, but also its condition.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only 19 percent of Americans properly inspect and inflate their tires. That’s a scary statistic!

To keep safety and preventative maintenance at the forefront of your work culture, here are some basics your employees need to know about tire safety:

Don’t drive on bald tires.

Tread is the part of a tire that contacts the road. A tire is deemed bald when the tread wears down to the point where the grooves are no longer visible.

Bald tires are extremely dangerous. Driving on bald tires can result in blowouts, and make it difficult to brake safely and maintain control of your vehicle. They can be extremely risky in wet weather –snow, ice or rain – as it leads to hydroplaning on wet surfaces or sliding in icy conditions due to lack of traction.

Bald tires also contribute to increased fatigue because of the extra attention required to keep the vehicle on the road. In addition to being hazardous to your safety, it can also be hazardous to your wallet. Driving on bald tires may result in reduced gas mileage and even a ticket from law enforcement, both of which are financially undesirable.

Inspect tires frequently.

So how do you check the tread on your tires to ensure they aren’t bald? A simple trick is to insert a penny upside down with the top of Lincoln’s head into the tread. If the top of the head is visible at any point on the tire, it is time to replace it.

In addition to tread depth, watch for cuts, wide cracks, tread separation, punctures, bulges, splits, and objects such as nails, screws, metal and large rocks.

Ensure tires are properly inflated.

Tire tread is not the only maintenance item to survey. Inflation is also crucial to vehicle safety. According to the US Department of Transportation, one in four cars have at least one tire that is significantly underinflated. While underiflation is important to avoid, over-inflated tires also have adverse effects. They are more likely to be punctured when hitting an obstacle.

A tire gauge measures inflation pressure in psi (pounds per square inch). Check the vehicle owner’s manual or driver’s door for the recommended psi. To get an accurate reading, measure tire pressure when the tires are cold. When examining tires, don’t forget to check your spare tire’s inflation too.

Establish a vehicle maintenance program.

Don’t neglect your vehicles. Develop a proactive maintenance program to regularly check tires.

Although inspection and inflation are important, tire rotation is also crucial. Most vehicle tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles to maintain equal wear on your tires.

Although proper maintenance can extend the life of your tires, according to Car and Driver, a new set of tires generally still should be replaced after six years.  Regular inspections will give you a feel for when your tires are starting to wear out.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.


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