Browse Publications Technical Papers 2018-01-5031
2018-08-24

An Epidemiologic Analysis of Causal Factors in Tire Failure-Related Traffic Crashes 2018-01-5031

The cause of traffic crashes that follow a sudden tire failure is a point of contention in the literature. Some authors have indicated that such crashes are attributable to the loss of stability and control that is inherent in a tire failure that occurs at speed, and other authors have reported that experimentally induced tire failures do not result in a catastrophic loss of control, and thus driver error is a more likely cause of such crashes. In the present study we evaluated 16 years of data from the National Automotive Sampling System-Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) for 2000-2015 in order to assess the epidemiologic features of tire failure-related crashes and to examine crash causation factors.
The results of the analysis indicated an annual average of nearly 11,000 tire failure-related crashes in the NASS-CDS data (1 in 270 crashes). Rollover and other non-collision crashes were substantially more common among the tire failure crashes than the non-tire failure crashes (91% versus 27% for all non-collisions, and 25% versus 7% for rollover crashes, respectively), and there was a 75% lower rate of adverse road or weather conditions in the tire failure versus non-tire failure crashes (6% versus 24%). Vehicles with a lower resistance to rollover (SUVs and pickup trucks) that crashed due to a tire failure rolled 3.2 times more often than passenger cars (49% versus 15%), and 7 times more often in comparison with all vehicles involved in non-tire failure-related crashes.
The analysis indicated that the largest explanation for a crash following a tire failure is the instability and associated loss of control resulting from the tire failure, rather than any factors attributable to driver error or reaction.

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