How to handle tyre burst on the road (Monday, November 17, 2014)

In the end you may hear people say “there was nothing I could do,” however…
Every time you drive up a kerb, through a pothole that you could have avoided, park with your tyres pressing against a kerb or leave weeks between tyre pressure checks, remember this thought.

It usually takes several months of neglect for a tyre to 'burst' and there is a very simple thing that you can do about it –give your tyres a lot more attention.

There is no shred of doubt that a tyre blowout ranks the highest on any highway driver’s list of fears. With good reason, as a tyre burst could lead to a complete loss of car control. A blowout is dangerous no matter how good a driver you are or how safe your car is.  

The good news is that with tyre technology continually improving, blowouts are becoming an infrequent occurrence. Still, they do happen and it's best that you know what to do if you suffer one.

How to handle a Tyre burst:

• Start with maintaining a safe driving speed; there are just no two sides to this. The lower your speed, the higher your chance of survival. A blowout at 80-90 kph will be far less dramatic and damaging than one at 140-150 kph. Indeed, if you survive a tyre burst at 150 kph, consider it a gift of God.

• Don’t slam on the brake pedal. Of course, this is easier said than done, as our brains are hardwired to instinctively jam the brake pedal in an emergency. Hard braking is actually the worst thing you can do as it will further imbalance the vehicle and throw it out of control.

• Don’t abruptly take your foot off the accelerator. Do it slowly and gradually. In fact, experts recommend that you maintain accelerator input momentarily, before releasing it slowly. The deceleration force from a blown tyre is so strong that your car will anyway slow down rapidly. If you have engaged cruise control, be sure to disengage it immediately.

• Try your best to keep the vehicle pointed straight. Cornering or turning with a blown tyre will greatly upset the car’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.

• Do not  attempt to over-correct. The key is to maintain the vehicle’s stability. A sharp yank of the steering wheel can result in a rollover.
 Even when you have gained control and you are slowly moving to a safe parking spot, do so with the mildest steering inputs possible.

• Allow the vehicle to gradually coast to a stop. Use engine braking if necessary. 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. Drive on the bare metal wheel if you have to, but DON’T STOP in the middle of the road as you run the risk of getting rear-ended by a speeding car. Remember to activate your hazard lights when you stop.

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