A front tyre blowout could rank highest on any Long-distance truck driver’s list of fears. Reasonably so, a front tyre burst at highway speeds could lead to a complete loss of vehicle control.
No matter how good a trucker you are or how safe your truck is, a front tyre burst is very dangerous.
“It all happened very fast, there was a loud bang – the truck jerked to the left and capsized…There was nothing I could do about it.”
This is a very common comment from a truck driver who crashed because of a front tyre blowout, if they live to tell the story.
Regular tyre checks before each trip definitely reduce chances of tyre blowouts.
What does a tyre burst sound like?
First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tyre popping reverberating through your truck.
You may then hear a whooshing or whistling sound of the air quickly escaping from the tyre.
Finally, a repeated flapping or flopping sound of the deflated tyre hitting the road, with the front tyre you can expect the truck to lower towards the deflated tyre.
When a tyre explodes while you’re driving, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the side where the tyre burst occurred.
A front tyre burst at below 80 km/h will be far less dramatic than one at over. If you survive a front tyre burst at over 80 km/h, consider it a gift of God and hope it’s not the last one.
How to react after a front tyre bursts
The key is to maintain your cool at all times. You will need a quick response time and be calm under pressure.
Human survival instict will tell you to hit the brakes but NO, don’t try it.
I repeat, Leave the footbrake alone!
Here is what you should do;
- Keep going straight – don’t try to pull off the road at once,
- Hold the steering wheel firmly at 10 O’ clock and 2 O’ clock to avoid losing control,
- Ease off the accelerator slowly don’t reduce speed abruptly. If the cruise is on – switch it off,
- Maintain your course while the vehicle slows,
- You may use the trailer handbrake to slow down the truck,
- When the vehicle has slowed down you can now apply brakes gently,
- Pull your vehicle to the side of the road,
and lastly breathe a sigh of relief, you have lived to share your experience.
Factors that may affect the impact of a front tyre burst
It must be emphasised that your chances of acing this maneuver, and more importantly making it out alive, is dependent on many factors.
If you don’t have the seat belt on and the truck jerks you will most likely lose control and never regain it leading to a crash.
If you are alert of your surroundings you have a better chance of staying cool after a tyre burst. After the panic an alert trucker quickly reacts to maintain control while a distracted driver needs to fix the distraction first, losing out on precious seconds that define his survival.
With a normal load, it’s hard but possible to control a truck after a front tyre burst. Overload or unbalanced load increases the labour you go through to harness the truck and your chance to succeed is next to zero.
If you are travelling within the legal limit of any stretch of highway you have a better chance of maintaining or regaining control of the truck.