Looking for the answer too the question, why do tyres blow out? Well this survey, admittedly carried out in the UK, but still relevant to the Australian experience to a certain extent, can hint at the answers. Most of the time the tyres are under-inflated for one reason or another. They are either low on air because something has penetrated the tyre and air is leaking, or the tyre is simply under-inflated from poor tyre maintenance. There are other reasons for blow outs, these are overshadowed by the two above.
This study of tyres collected from the roadside around the UK amounts to a random selection of tyre damage and a forensic dissection of the causes of these blow outs. The results give us a realistic picture of what is actually going on out on the highway. Under-inflation is deadly for a tyre. When air is low the tyre temperature will rise dramatically at 100 km/h. Once the rubber reaches a particular temperature, the integrity of the rubber itself degrades quickly and, inevitably, disintegrates with drastic consequences.
If a truck is unfortunate enough to have a blow out, the last thing the driver will admit to is the tyre was under-inflated because they didn’t check the air pressure. A number of alternative excuses will be put forward. Debris on the road or cheap tyres being common excuses.
The question we have to ask is, are we doing enough to prevent low inflation pressures, leading to blow outs. The consequences of a tyre going off at cruising speed can be catastrophic, especially if the tyre is on a steering axle. Perhaps we need to make more of an effort than occasionally walking around the truck and belting the tyres with an iron bar?