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

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article in journalAcademic


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5031
Number of pages6
JournalSAE Technical Papers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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