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ACCIDENT OF THE WEEK – LOSING A TIRE WHILE DRIVING

The third article of the accident prevention series features a fast and furious kind of accident. Blink and you’ll miss it. Check the video !

1) Why did the accident happen

There are a few reasons why the wheel was rolling uncontrollably on the road and usually they don’t occur in the same time.
In most cases, a malfunction around the wheel area can lead to this kind of accident. The screws that keep the tires bolted to the wheel hub can break. They can shear because of a big radial load along the wheel or they can twist because of the wrong torque values at which the bolts or nuts are screwed.
When the screws break the wheel gets loose and because of high inertia, the wheel rolls in roughly the direction the car was going. Keep in mind that the weight of a wheel can be anywhere from 10kg to 50kg or even more, depending on the type of vehicle (small car, saloon, SUV, truck or lorry). Considering that the wheel can break at a speed of 100km/h or even more and you’re also traveling at the same speed, the impact can be fatal. As you can see in the video, the wheel smashed inside the car violently.

2) How the accident could have been prevented

This kind of accidents can be avoided if you periodically check your car.
Particularly for this kind of accidents, you need to check the condition of the nuts and the screws that bolt the wheel on the wheel hub. Make sure they’re not excessively rusty. Also, you need to be aware of the condition of the axles’ joints. You can check them at any respectable car service. The play should be well within the interval given by the car’s manufacturer.
Be careful at the tightening torque of the nuts or screws. If the torque is too high, you can twist and elongate the bolts. At some point, probably when you’re driving, they will break. If the torque is not high enough, the screws or nuts can unscrew by themselves, usually during driving, and the wheel simply comes off. The tightening torque value is given by the car’s manufacturer and should be respected!

3) How to react if the accident happens

If you’re driving a car and suddenly one of the wheels comes off, try to steer the car away from the traffic (on the right on left side of the road, depending on where you’re driving). The car will behave abnormally and it will start to drastically pull on the side you lost the wheel.
If you lose one of the wheels at the front, the steering will be severely affected. Try to compensate the car’s pulling and also start to break. The rear wheels are still on the road and will slow you down.
If you lose one of the wheels at the back, the situation is not that bad as losing a front wheel. Immediately start to break and drive away from the traffic.
If the wheel comes off and starts to roll uncontrollably, there’s obviously not much that you can do as the driver of the car that just lost a wheel.
If you are inside your car and suddenly find yourself face to face with a rolling wheel like in the video, there’s simply not much you can do. You will probably not have the time to avoid the impact if you’re driving at speeds higher than 60 km/h. If you have the reflex of suddenly steering, depending on the road surface and speed, you can lose control of the car. This kind of situation doesn’t look good no matter how you analyze it.
If a car in front that is going in the same direction of you loses a tire, it’s easier to avoid the impact as the tire will follow the same direction as the car. You will have time to see the tire and you will have time to break and steer away from danger if you keep your distance!
If the impact is imminent, try to brake and keep the direction of the car while somehow dodging the wheel, protecting your head.

Stay tuned for the next episode of the series!

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