A front tire blowout at highway speeds is the stuff of nightmares for most truck drivers. When the front steering tire of the tractor goes, the driver will feel the steering tug hard to the side of the blown out tire. A blown left tire means veering into oncoming traffic, while a right tire blowout means going off the road. While both of these alternatives are equally grim, there is a third: coming to a safe stop at the shoulder of the road without incident. This is doable because drivers have survived blowouts with an intact truck, even on narrow highways while traveling at 65 mph.
Your Natural Reactions Are All Wrong
You have to know what to do in advance because your normal driving reactions to road emergencies will guaranty a truck accident. The first response everyone naturally does is to brake. However, braking will cause the blown tire to drag even harder on the road. This will intensify the truck’s veering to the side. The harder you brake, the worse it gets.
How to Cope with a Front Tire Blowout
- Don’t brake. Braking will intensify the side pull.
- Accelerate. This counter intuitive step might seem foolhardy at first but it will stabilize your truck. Acceleration has a lifting effect on the tractor’s front end that takes weight off the blown out tire. Less weight reduces the damaged tire’s dragging. This in turn, reduces the side pull. Accelerate just enough to get control over the steering. Don’t overdo it. If your cruise control is on, you must quickly turn it off without braking.
- Hold the steering wheel tightly. Grip your steering wheel firmly with both hands. You must resist the steering’s tendency to pull to the side. Don’t over steer. Simply keep your truck moving straight ahead.
- Allow the truck to come to a stop. Slowly ease off the gas while keeping the truck in your lane. Turn on your flashers and allow wind and road drag to slow your truck down to a stop at the side of the road. Again, stay away from the brake pedal.
The above procedure is often done by professional trainers who deliberately blowout a front tire with a small explosive charge. It works. However, if the tire goes when there’s no power in reserve, you won’t be able to accelerate. In addition, if your hands are off the steering wheel, the blowout will rapidly yank the truck off the road.
Injured in a truck accident? You may be entitled to compensation for related losses. Contact us for a free consultation.