Guard against the risk of a high-speed blowout, urges GEM
ROAD SAFETY and breakdown recovery provider GEM Motoring Assist is supporting Tyre Safety Month with the fourth in a series of simple safety reminders. This week GEM is warning of the dangers of a high-speed catastrophic tyre failure, or blowout.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth commented: “A puncture or blowout while driving can be a scary experience, particularly if you’re driving at high speed on the motorway. Knowing how to respond could make the difference between survival and disaster.
“A puncture is a slow release of air from a tyre, either through a small hole or leaky valve. In most circumstances where you suffer a normal puncture, you should be able to bring your car to a smooth controlled stop without danger. Look for symptoms such as difficulty in steering, and a tendency for the car to pull one way or the other.
“Blowouts are thankfully extremely rare, and if you ensure your tyres are maintained with the correct inflation – and replaced before they reach their legal minimum tread – then you are very unlikely ever to experience a blowout.
“But any blowout creates an immediate emergency situation. Bear in mind that the best techniques for trying to stay in control of your car after a blowout may well go against your natural instincts, but it’s important to avoid destabilising your vehicle further, or putting more stress on the other tyres.
“In a blowout, all the air is released immediately from a tyre. Causes include under-inflation, damage sustained by striking a kerb or hitting an obstacle on the road. You will experience a sudden and violent swerve to the left or right.
“It’s important not to make any sudden movement of the steering wheel in order to point the car back in the original direction.
“In a front wheel blowout, one of your tyres will have lost all its inflation, and you could be driving on bare wheel rims. Don’t brake hard, as this will increase the weight on the front tyres and could force the wheel rim to dig into the tarmac, causing the car to lose stability and even flip over.
“In a rear wheel blowout, the any attempt to steer or brake hard can further increase drag, meaning the vehicle will be much harder to control. You may even enter a 360-degree spin.”
Neil Worth says the priority immediately after a blowout is to regain and maintain control. “Don’t brake hard, especially if you’ve had a front wheel blowout, as this will increase the weight on the front tyres,” he says. “Maintain speed, grip the steering wheel with both hands and focus on the road ahead. Check your mirrors, then indicate left and steer gently towards the side of the road (or to the hard shoulder of the motorway).
“Use the gears to slow down gradually, then when you have stopped, apply the handbrake and switch in your hazard warning lights.”
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