In a tragic accident that took seven lives, a Ford Excursion crossed the median on a Georgia highway where it struck a van in oncoming traffic. Seven people died in the accident, but three children survived albeit with serious injuries.
The Georgia State Patrol indicated that the Ford Excursion was heading northbound on the I-85 when it entered the center lane. Police did not indicate why the SUV suddenly jumped the median. All four men in the van were killed on impact. There were two adults and four children in the Excursion. Two adults and one of the children died. Another child remains in critical condition.
Investigating the Accident
When there is an accident like this that takes the lives of so many people, an inquiry is made into how it happened. This means taking a look at surveillance footage if there is any, witness statements, and the debris.
Accidents in which a vehicle on a highway cross the median of a street and then strikes another vehicle head-on are thankfully uncommon. However, they do tend to point to a mechanical failure in a number of cases.
Tires are composed of casings and treads. The treads are attached to the casings using steel belts and an adhesive. The adhesive is hardened during a curing process that bonds the treads to the casing. When this process fails, the result is tread separation.
The other common way that a tire can fail is sidewall damage. In cases where there is uneven pressure on the sidewall, bulges form where there is too much pressure. Eventually, the tire simply explodes as the pressure inside the tire is not distributed evenly.
Nails and other road debris also are a serious danger to tires. They can leak air slowly over a period of time. But once the tire begins to lose significant pressure, there is an increased risk that the tread will separate or the sidewall will fail.
It’s clear that the driver lost control of the car. One of the most common reasons that a driver will lose control of a car is tire failure. Tire failure happens when the tire rapidly deflates. This can be caused by a manufacturing defect in the tire, the age of the tire, or a problem with the road. In some cases, drivers will drive around with nails in their tires without realizing it. Newer model vehicles have tire pressure monitoring systems that will indicate if one tire is considerably lower than the others. Older model vehicles, however, don’t.
Why Tires Fail
There are a number of reasons why tires fail. These range from manufacturing defect to poor maintenance by the driver. Below, we’ll look in-depth at some of the most common reasons why tire failure occurs.
- Underinflation – When a tire is underinflated, it causes the bottom to bow and go pear-shaped. Not only is there added pressure on the sidewalls, but there is also pressure on the treads. Keeping tires properly inflated is paramount to good tire safety.
- They’re old – Even tires that have not been driven on for extended periods of time will accrue wear and tear. As the tire ages, the rubber gets harder, making it less pliant and capable of absorbing shock from the road. This is especially problematic for those who drive sports vehicles that they leave in their garage throughout the winter months. They think that because the tread is still good that the tire is too and that isn’t always the case.
- Overinflation – Even as underinflation presents a serious threat to your tires, so too does overinflation. Overinflated tires are more susceptible to blowouts because there is simply too much pressure already inside the tire. Drivers are cautioned never to exceed the recommended pressure ranges for their vehicle.
- The vehicle is overloaded – In the same way that overinflation can make your tires more susceptible to a blowout, so too can overloading your vehicle. There’s simply too much pressure on the tires.
- Road hazards – Major potholes and other hazards can puncture the tread of the tire. When they puncture through the tread and into the casing, the tire will begin to lose air. This can happen either immediately or slowly over time. When it happens at high speeds it can be particularly dangerous.
- Wear and tear – Tires cannot be used indefinitely. They are generally warrantied up to a certain amount of treading. Once that treading is worn down, the tires need to be replaced.
- Alignment problems – Alignment problems with your vehicle will cause the tread to wear unevenly. In some places, you will find that the treading has worn down almost completely, while another part of your tire appears to have untouched treading. Overall, alignment issues reduce the life of your tires are produce tires that are more dangerous to drive on.
Possible Non-Tire Related Causes
While tires are one of the first things that investigators will check in this type of accident, they aren’t the only reason that a vehicle can veer into oncoming traffic. In some cases, it will be the fault of the driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
There’s no way to know for certain if this particular driver fell asleep at the wheel, but in the absence of any other explanation, it becomes one of the most likely reasons.
Additionally, there could have been some other mechanical failure that caused the car to veer left violently enough to jump the median and careen into oncoming traffic.
Tire Safety Tips
Tires should be checked once a year when inspections are due. If you feel as though your tires are on the verge of wearing out, then you should make every effort to replace them. When cars suffer blowouts on highways, chances are good that the driver will lose control of the car. Tragic accidents are not uncommon.
Car Accident Attorney Kennesaw
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.