Badly worn tires on a car driven at high speed on a hot summer day can be deadly.
Last Monday, two people were killed in Pushmataha County after a tire blowout caused Danny Briggs, 34, of Clayton, to lose control of his sport utility vehicle and cross the center line on State Highway 2, striking an oncoming vehicle driven by Christina Willis, 29, of Wright City. Both drivers were killed.
The investigating officer listed tires as a contributing factor in the crash.
"Unfortunately, when people start thinking about driving and safety they are just thinking about the human element," said Capt. Chris West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. "It's equally or maybe more important that we make sure our vehicles are in safe driving condition."
West said that involves checking windshield wipers, belts, hoses, even the suspension, as well as the condition of the tires.
A sudden tire failure caused by worn, under
Peggy McCune, of Enid, said she has learned that
"My daughter, Evelyn Hughes, and I were on our way to Oklahoma City when the car started making this rough sound," McCune said. "We were going about 65 miles an hour south of Waukomis but were able to slow down and get pulled off the right side of the road."
When they got out of the car, what they found was a shredded left front tire. Their AAA responder told them the right front tire was also badly worn.
"We were just lucky," McCune said. "It was a wake-up call to never let my tires ever go that long again."
'That's a man thing'
McCune said the tires were original to her 2002 car and had about 70,000 miles on them.
"I never think about checking the tires," she said. "Women and tires? That's a man thing."
That's a mistake many motorists make.
"People tend to wear tires down to the minimal tread," said Roy Henson of Ralph & Sons Tire Center of Chickasha. "Tires are more likely to blow when they become old and the rubber starts to harden. That and underinflation make it hard for tires to dissipate the heat that builds up."
He said even if a tire doesn't have excessive miles, it can fail because of age and exposure to the elements.
Kathy Evans, a data analyst for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, said from 2007-2009 there were 881 traffic accidents where troopers listed tire conditions as a contributing factor. The number of deaths resulting from those wrecks was 32.
The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that about 660 people die every year nationwide due to tire failure.
Oklahoma stopped requiring motor vehicle inspections in 2001. Tire condition was one of the items on the checklist.
What to do
While state highway patrol no longer can write tickets for not having a vehicle inspected, West said motorists still must maintain safe
The Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends visual inspection and inflation pressure check of all tires and the spare at least once a month.
The National Road Safety Foundation gives these tips on how to steer out of a blowout.
• Your car's reaction will depend on which tire blows, your speed and road conditions. Generally, the car pulls in the direction of the blown tire or, if the rear tire is blown, the car may fishtail from side to side.
• Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and stay in your lane until the car is under control.
• Sound your horn and hit your hazard lights.
• Start slowing down and pull off the road safely.
Summer safe driving tips