I-Team: Aging tires can have dangerous consequences

Tires are in some way to blame for 11,000 crashes a year

WEST BROOKFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – You may think the tires on your car were new when you bought them, but they may be older than you think.

Two separate crashes, one a head-on collision, the other a rollover on a busy highway. The two local cases that have virtually nothing in common, except for one detail, they both happened after another driver’s tire failed or blew-out.

“I just remember seeing the tire and I woke up spitting up blood and saying ‘oh my God, oh my God,'” said North Brookfield’s Rakyna Kenyon-Boyd.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tires are in some way to blame for 11,000 crashes a year and 200 deaths, and that accidents are mostly avoidable the more you know about your own tires.

The I-Team discovered not many people know a whole lot about the wheels they’re driving on. Experts say you should know when they were manufactured and the I-Team discovered it’s something you can do yourself.

On the side of everyone’s tire, there’s a Department Of Transportation code. The code begins with DOT and is followed by a series of numbers and letters. You want to look at the last four numbers. That represents the week and year you tire was manufactured.

Town Fair Fire’s Guy Havrat suggests replacing them sometime in the 5-10 year range, and take note of that DOT code when buying new or used tires. “I wouldn’t buy the tire if it’s over 3 or 4 years old. You’re just asking for trouble,” Havrat said.

The person who hit West Brookfield’s Linda Dorman in a head-on collision was cited for a number of violations including driving with a bald tire. You can see how worn your tires are by looking for the “tread wear bar”. The bar should be well below the tire’s tread. If it’s getting close, you won’t have good traction and it may be time to replace it.

Havrat also showed us how to look for signs of aging. “Sometimes there’s tread on the tires but being old but there will be severe cracks in the sidewall because it dry-rotted so bad and those cracks open up, and it’s definitely a safety issue. you could lose air pressure, if you hit a pothole it can blow the sidewall,” Havrat said.

Rakyna Kenyon-Boyd spent months in and out of surgery after her accident, doctors didn’t know if she’d be able to have kids, but she defied those odds. “I would never think that something that tragic could happen with just a tire being in the road,” Kenyon-Boyd said.

Jack McQuade, the Mark E. Salomone attorney who represented both Dorman and Rakyna Kenyon-Boyd after their accidents said simple tire maintenance could have prevented both. While they’re both physically doing well, both say driving will never be the same. “It was very traumatic and it still lingers, and I carry that with me today,” Dorman added.

There’s an app you can download that can help you determine if your tires need replacement or have been recalled. The app is called “Tire Facts” in the app store.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends taking five minutes every month and before every long drive to check your tires, including the spare.

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