Handling a blowout

If you are planning on driving to a holiday destination this festive season, tyre maintenance and checks are an essential before leaving. Yet, even with tyre maintenance performed, things can go wrong like hitting a pothole or another sharp object.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says a tyre blowout can pose a serious safety hazard. “In fact, tyre blowouts are estimated to cause more than 400 fatalities, over 10 000 injuries and some 78 000 crashes every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the USA.

“If a blowout occurs at high speeds, it can be particularly alarming. The sudden loss of pressure makes it easy to lose control and at high speeds the chances of this are even greater. Should this happen to while driving over 100km/h, follow these tips to remain calm and handle the situation as safely as possible.”

  1. Stay calm
  2. Hold the steering wheel firmly.
  3. Do not slam on the brakes as this is what can cause you to spin out of control
  4. Focus on keeping the vehicle straight. The vehicle will likely steer and possibly even veer in the direction of the blowout which you should try counter by focusing on keeping the steering pointing straight ahead. It might be tempting to yank the steering wheel in the opposite direction but avoid overcorrecting.  
  5. Gradually and carefully slow down by easing off the accelerator – the deceleration caused by the burst tyre will slow the vehicle somewhat more rapidly
  6. If your car has a manual transmission, change to a lower gear but only if you have full control of the vehicle. In automatic transmissions remain in Drive.
  7. Once the vehicle slows to 50km/h, start braking gradually and coast to a stop.
  8. Once safely off the road, switch on your emergency lights.

Before you leave for your trip, double check you have everything necessary to change a tyre. “This includes a spare in good condition and check the air pressure as well. If you have a donut spare or run flats, remember to not exceed their limitations. This includes not driving past certain speeds or distances.

“Focus on preparing both your vehicle and yourself for the long-distance trip so that your family and yourself can enjoy a well-deserved break,” says Herbert.