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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Catastrophic tire failure -- you may be able to recover from it -- if you do the RIGHT thing

You may have seen the video shot by a trucker's dash cam in Louisiana earlier this year. In it, a motorhome passing the big truck suffers a catastrophic tire failure, runs off onto the median, and rolls over. Happily, neither the driver or passenger in the motorhome were seriously injured, and the median cable system – while not stopping the motorhome entirely, evidently slowed the rig enough to prevent what might have been a worse scenario. We're including the dash cam footage at the end of this story.

In a "double header" blog, we'd like to focus on a nine+ minute video produced by tire manufacturer Michelin that graphically demonstrates how to deal with a tire loss. While it would be great if all RVers could go to a hands-on class where they're put behind the wheel of a rig, and then a tire is deliberately blown out for teaching purposes, obviously that's not possible. Still, this video can teach you what you need to know in dealing with a "blown" tire scenario. What is that?

It's all counter-intuitive, but it really is simple: STAY OFF THE BRAKE, AND HIT THE ACCELERATOR INSTEAD. Counter-intuitive, yes. Like you, when I hear something that sounds like a gunshot, I want to duck and take cover. But doing that when a tire blows – by hitting the brakes, is most assuredly one of the best ways to really make a bad situation terrible. Hitting the brakes will cause you to lose control; slowing down immediately will likewise about guarantee that your rig will be pulled in the direction of the bad tire, while steeping on the gas and steering back into control will overcome the forces developed by the loss of air pressure. Please, WATCH THIS VIDEO, it could save your life and those of others, too.

Here's the "other" video. Interestingly, if you watch it closely you'll see that the motorhome driver here doesn't appear to hit his brakes. The only light to the rear of his rig that's visible is a momentary flash of his right turn signal – possibly he hit it while trying to fight for control. Did he just "get off the gas" and lose it? Did he accelerate? We don't know. In any tire loss scenario though, accelerating offers you the best chance of recovery.

photo: Louisiana Highway Patrol


  1. So this happened to me towing a travel trailer in early August, and when one of the trailer's tires (dual axle) blew, the trailer began a violent three-lane whipsaw motion. I'd never heard anything about this problem and was fortunate enough to have instinctively done at least a partially correct response. I didn't go for the brake, but I did let off the accelerator. I nearly lost the trailer but was very lucky or have hung and ridden out the deflation. Watching the video I wish they only show the event on a motor home. My experience tells me that towing a trailer when this occurs is vastly different from what happens than the forces occurring on a dual axle motor home. What kind of tips and training is available for that situation. It also seems to me that inexpensive simulators could be provided for RV drivers at dealerships to help us become more instinctive in our awareness of what's happening and speed our correct responses.

  2. this past weekend was driving a dual axle camper and one of the tires blew out and I heard the boom but didn't realize it was a blown tire until someone pulled up out of the kindness of their heart and told me that my tire was blown out because of the dual axle and we also had very good sway bars


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