EssentialÂ Skills Article
Many things happen unexpectedly on the road, and one of the most frightening is to have a tyre burst while you are travelling at speed. A sudden loss of pressure on one or more of your vehicleâ€™s four tyres can be terrifying but as always, there are ways of dealing with such situation, and also ways of avoiding such an event.
We should start by first differentiating between a tyre burst and a punctured tyre. Punctured tyre is where a tyre slowly loses pressure and the tyre eventually become flat, whilst a tyre burst is a sudden loss of pressure where the tyre is quickly destroyed, making it difficult to drive.
There are numerous causes of tyre burst of blowout, but the common ones are:
1.Under-inflation of tyres – an under-inflated tyre will bulge out under your carâ€™s weight, causing a high level of friction, resulting in heat that will weaken the tyre and eventually leads to a burst. Make sure you check your tyre pressures regularly to dramatically reduce the chance of tyre burst; equally ensure tyres arenâ€™t over-inflated.
2. Overloaded Vehicle – overloaded vehicle can also lead to a burst tyre due to the tyre being put under more pressure than it is built to endure. Couple this with an under-inflated tyre and there is a high chance of a tyre burst. Make sure you are aware of your vehicleâ€™s maximum load weight and donâ€™t go over it to reduce the risk of a burst.Â
3. Potholes – potholes are a general menace to motorists; they can also be quite dangerous to our vehicles. Driving over a deep pothole at speed, can cause an immediate tyre burst due to the impact alone.Â
If you are driving and a tyre bursts, hereâ€™s what to do:
1.Stay calm – this might be a ridiculous thing to say given the situation, but in order to make the event of a tyre burst as safe as possible, you need to keep your wits.Â
2. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel – the car will want to pull in the direction of the burst tyre, so it is important you hold the wheel firmly with both hands to keep the car as straight as possible.Â
3. Do not turn onto the shoulder of the road until you have your vehicle under control – if the burst causes your vehicle to swerve onto the shoulder, do not try to get back onto the carriageway. Let the vehicle coast to a stop.Â
4. No heavy braking – pretty much any driver encountering a tyre burst for the first time, will want to instinctively put their foot hard on the brakes. This is one of the worst things you can do as hard braking can exaggerate the way the car wants to pull as a result of the blowout, potentially leading to an accident.Â
5. Try your level best to keep the vehicle pointed straight – cornering or turning with a blown tyre will greatly upset the carâ€™s composure. If your car is pulling to one side, you might need to pull the steering in the opposite direction to keep it going straight. This is critical, else you risk drifting into the road divider or worse still, the opposite lane.Â
6. Do not attempt to overcorrect – sharp movement of the steering wheel can result in a rollover. Even when you have gained control and are slowly moving to a safe parking spot, do so with the mildest steering inputs possible.Â
7. Allow the vehicle to gradually coast to a stop – use engine braking if necessary and lightly engage the brakes only when your car has decelerated to a slow speed. Use the turn indicators and pull over safely off the road.Â
8. Pull over safely – as soon as safely possible, pull your car over to the side of the road and put your hazards on. Ensure that other motorists are aware that you have stopped by deploying reflective safety triangles behind your car if you have them and wear reflective clothing if possible.
Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)
**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant