ATLANTA — Many Georgians are driving less during the pandemic. While cars might be spending less time on the road, that could mean our tires are putting our safety at risk. Georgia is one of the top five states for tire failure.
“Come on, baby. Talk to us. Can you wake up? I think he’s gone. I don’t think he has a pulse anymore,” said a 911 caller who attempted to revive the driver of a Saturn whose tire blew out.
Tamekka Parson is one of several drivers who witnessed the deadly tire blowout while traveling east on Interstate 20 in Newton County near Almon Road in 2017.
“I just saw like an explosion of the tire. I knew it had to be a blowout,” said Parson.
She didn’t know the victim, 27-year-old Rhyan Rawls of Covington, but said she is still shaken by his sudden death.
“My tires, I check frequently even when I purchase a brand-new car or anything. I always look at the tires,” said Parson.
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 700 people a year are killed in crashes due to tire failure.
In dash cam video, a witness recounted what he saw as Rawls attempted to regain control of his car.
“When that came off, he lost control and slid in front of an 18-wheeler, hit this tree,” said the witness.
“Georgia is one of the top five states in the country for dangerous tire failures. It’s about two deaths a day on our nation’s highways from these types of tire failures. It’s a really serious problem,” said Atlanta attorney and tire expert Matt Wetherington.
He explained why Georgia is one of the most dangerous states for tire failures.
“When you go from hot to cold or cold to hot, the air pressure in your tire is going to fluctuate,” said Wetherington.
That’s why it’s important to check your tires’ air pressure. Even if your car stayed parked since the beginning of the pandemic the age of your tires is a factor.
“Tires have a shelf life, believe it or not, and they only last for about six years from the date of manufacture,” said Wetherington.
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Craig Dobrin of Butler Tires and Wheels said tire blowouts usually happen when drivers ignore the first signs of trouble.
“They see the light on, and they figure nothing is wrong and they’ll keep going until they have a disaster,” said Dobrin.
He said when it comes to assessing the condition of your tires, it’s best to leave it up to the professionals, but he penny test can be a helpful tool.
“You take the penny and put it in the lowest part of the tread and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tires,” said Dobrin.
To check the age of your tires, look at the sidewall where there are a bunch of numbers at the very end. If it says 0-5-20 that means the tire was made in the fifth week of 2020.
But the manufacture date is not always easy to see. Sometimes you need to get underneath your car to see it.
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