How to Stay Safe When You Get a Flat Tire on the Highway

by Staff | September 21st, 2020

Whether it’s caused by a blowout or a slow deflation, experiencing a flat tire isn’t just an inconvenience—it can put your life at risk. Many people don’t think twice about getting out of their vehicles, pulling their jacks out of their trunks, and getting right to work on swapping their flat tires with their spare tires.

But before you take matters into your own hands, it’s important to ask yourself one extremely important question: is changing your tire yourself safe? In many cases, it isn’t.

In fact, Move Over laws were instituted in all 50 states to help protect people working on the sides and shoulders of roads from being struck by vehicles—and that includes stranded motorists. Not all roads are created equal when it comes to flat tire dangers, so take stock of your surroundings and then follow the guide below.

Reduce Your Flat Tire Dangers with These Tips

Don’t let a minor inconvenience result in you putting your life at risk. Follow these tips as soon as you notice your tire has gone flat:

  • Grasp the wheel firmly, take your foot off the gas, and coast to a safe, flat location—Never swerve, accelerate, slam on your brakes, or make any other sudden movements if you suspect you’ve got a flat tire or have experienced a blowout. If you’re on the interstate or highway, pull over to the shoulder as soon as possible. If you’re in an urban area, pull over into a parking lot or driveway. And if you’re in a rural area, pull off the road anywhere it’s safe to do so.
  • Turn on your hazard lights—It’s important to let other drivers know where your vehicle is and that you’re in distress, especially at night or in times of low visibility. A passing tow truck driver, highway assistance worker, state trooper, or police officer may see you soon after and stop to help.
  • Assess your surroundings—If your flat tire occurred on a busy highway or interstate, don’t change your tire yourself, even if you’re capable of doing so. Changing a flat tire near speeding traffic is simply too dangerous to risk. Call a tow truck instead. If you’re in an urban or rural area and further away from traffic, you can change your tire, but only if you are comfortable doing so. Otherwise, call a tow truck or wait for assistance to arrive.
  • If you do it yourself, be extra careful while changing the tire—First, ensure your vehicle is parked on level ground. Next, ensure your parking brake is set. Then, loosen the lug nuts, but don’t remove them completely. When setting your jack, place it in the location recommended by the manual and turn it until the wheel is safely off the ground. Now, you can remove the lug nuts, remove the damaged tire, and replace it with the spare. Be sure to fully tighten the lug nuts after lowering your jack.
  • Get a new tire installed ASAP—Spare tires are great for getting you home safely in an emergency, but they aren’t meant to be driven on long-term. After swapping your damaged tire out with your spare, your next priority should be buying a new permanent tire to replace it. Depending on the age of your tires, this may be a good time to replace all four to reduce your risks of additional flat tires or blowouts.

Be sure to drive cautiously and slowly on your spare tire. Keep in mind that your spare tire may be slightly underinflated, especially if your vehicle is older and still has its original spare. If you have a further distance to drive, or if you’re already near a gas station or service center, adding air to the spare can help you reach your destination more safely.

When Negligence Results in a Crash, We’re Here to Help.

Flat tires and blowouts can cause crashes, but they aren’t the most common reason people are involved in accidents. Other people are. If you or someone you love was injured in a crash caused by a negligent driver, our Indiana auto accident attorneys want to help.

Contact Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin today for a free consultation. There’s no obligation after we discuss your case, and you owe us nothing unless we get money for you—that’s our No Fee Guarantee®.

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