Handling a Blowout: Don’t Panic

Dear Tracy,
Do you have any advice for handling a tire blowout? I recently saw an auto accident on the highway that was caused by a tire blowout and it really got me wondering if I would know what to do if that happened to me. It seems like my instinct would be to hit the brakes and swerve off of the road. Would that be the right thing to do? Also, I know there is not a lot a driver do about road debris, but are there things I can do to help prevent a blowout?
-Ashley W.

Dear Ashley,
Experiencing a blowout at highway speeds is scary situation. Even seasoned drivers may panic and handle the vehicle in a way that makes a bad situation even worse. If you experience a tire blowout try to remain calm. Maintaining control and balance of the vehicle is critical in getting off the road safely. While your instincts may tell you to hit the brakes or abruptly take your foot of the accelerator, you should not do either of these as it will diminish your vehicle stability and control.

In order to safely maneuver through a tire blowout  your must first slowly release the accelerator. As you gradually reduce speed, you will be able to correct your steering and maneuver the vehicle off the road.

Be aware that front and rear tire blowouts do not feel the same. A front blowout is felt in the steering of the vehicle, and a rear blowout is felt in the vehicle’s body. No matter which tire is effected, a tire blow out should always be handled in the same manner.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has some information and videos that explain what to do and what not to do in the event of a blow out.

Ashley, you are wise to think about steps you can take to avoid a tire blow out. Making sure your tread depth is adequate and keeping your tires properly inflated will help decrease your chances of trouble.