Your car’s tires are one of the most critical parts of your vehicle. Without them, you’d be investing in an expensive piece of useless equipment. As such, you need to make sure your tires are always running on optimal air pressure. However, many people fail to check their tires and risk driving on under-inflated tires.
Dangers of Driving on Under-Inflated Tires
Your tires are the only thing standing between the full weight of your vehicle and the road. Therefore, you should pay attention to your tires and make sure they have the appropriate amount of air pressure. Every car has a manufacturer-recommended PSI or tire air pressure. Making sure your car’s tires are running on the correct PSI level can make the difference between a safe trip or a dangerous one. According to auto accident attorneys like this one, some of the dangers associated with under-inflated tires include:
1. Tire Failure
Tire failure is responsible for many vehicle accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents.
Additionally, tire failure is one of the leading causes of rollover accidents in the U.S. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause a driver to lose control over his or her vehicle which often leads to a severe crash. Common types of tire failure include tire blowout, tread and belt separation, and sidewall failure. Usually, a car’s tire would have a squared profile. When a tire lacks adequate air pressure level, they turn rounder, generating heat due to friction and wearing of the outer side wall. This can cause a tire blowout over time.
2. Loss of Control
Appropriate PSI levels allow a tire to have an optimal grip on the road, which increases better handling of your vehicle. Driving on deflated tires can make you lose control over your car on the road. You may have a certain degree of control of your car when driving on a straight path. However, it can be challenging to have control over your vehicle when taking a curve while driving on low-pressure tires.
3. Damage to the Vehicle
In addition to causing damage to the tire itself, under-inflation can also cause damage to the car. For instance, if air pressure is too low on your tires, the weight of the vehicle is shared with other parts of the car such as the rims, breaks, calipers, and other wheel parts. If the wheel structure of the car is compromised, you would need to repair the damage before attempting driving.
What Causes Low Tire Pressure?
Making sure your tires are properly inflated is essential in preventing an accident. Many different reasons can cause tire deflation. Some of the reasons for tire under-inflation include:
1. Tire Damage
Tires are constantly exposed to all the things on the road. It’s likely you run into things that can damage your tires such as debris, potholes, and uneven, cracked roadways. One of the most common causes of tire damage is a sharp object such as nails. A puncture on your tire can leak up to three psi per day.
2. Damaged Bead
The bead is the edge part of the tire sitting on the wheel. It plays a critical role in preventing air leaks. If there is damage to the bead, air can escape quickly. Damage to the bead can be caused mostly by corroded or bent wheels. If you notice there is damage to the tire’s bead, it may be an excellent time to either change your tires or ask a tire management professional for help. Driving on a tire with bead damage can put you and other drivers at risk of an accident.
It is hard to picture weather causing air loss on your tires. However, heat can significantly impact air pressure within the casing. For instance, during hot weather, the air inside the tire expands, exerting pressure from the inside out. If you are running on over-inflated tires in the hot weather, your tires may explode. However, in colder weather, the air inside the tire contracts, causing a loss in air pressure. It is always recommended to check your tire’s psi levels to prevent further complications on the road.
Can You Be Sued For Causing An Accident Attributable To Your Tires?
You may think that someone wouldn’t sue you for an accident if it was caused by your underinflated tires. After all, you suffered in the accident too, and you certainly didn’t intentionally underinflate your tires, lose control of your vehicle, and cause an accident. But the truth is, if you cause an accident that results in a serious injury or death, you will be sued. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that things like your windshield wipers, turn signals, headlights, tire tread, air in the tires, and oil are well maintained. You will get no sympathy in court by saying that the accident happened only because your tire pressure was low.
There is this thing in a court of law called “contributory negligence” – if your negligence contributed to the accident, you can be held liable. In this case, underinflated tires causing you to lose control and crash into someone else would absolutely be classified as contributory negligence. Furthermore, let’s say that you were in an accident and you were the injured party. If you take that other driver to court and sue them, you may win an award if they are found at fault – but if the jury decides that your ability to avoid the accident was hampered by your poorly inflated tires, you will actually lose a portion of your award. For instance, if you are found 30% at fault, you will lose 30% of your award.
Lastly, can you be criminally charged for an accident that happens because of underinflated tires? Almost certainly not. Criminal charges are reserved for “gross negligence” in these cases, and while you may receive a misdemeanor manslaughter charge, that’s different from a felony.
Your car’s tires are not mere accessories. They are arguably the most critical part of your vehicle. However, many people tend to forget their tires – like many other car parts – need constant check-ups and even repairs. Failure to inspect and correct any defect on your tires can lead to a devastating accident capable of causing severe injuries and even wrongful deaths.