If there is one thing that truck drivers know, it is that a blowout can happen anytime, anywhere. While a truck driver can pay extra attention to ensuring tires are properly maintained, there is no way to completely eliminate the dangers of a blowout. Even worse, if a blowout occurs on a steer tire, both the truck driver and others on the road could be put in extreme danger.
It is important that when a blowout occurs, an untrained truck driver does not react with a “natural instinct” if they feel a pull from a blown out steer tire. Usually, that natural instinct is to pull the wheel back in the opposite direction and slam on the brakes. The problem is, these two actions are exactly the wrong actions to take.
What Should a Truck Driver Do?
With so many new truck drivers on the roadways today, paying careful attention to how to recover from a potential safety disaster should be at the front of everyone’s mind. When going through truck driver training, recovery is critical.
Should a blowout occur on a steer tire, the correct approach is to apply full acceleration and adjust the steering wheel to maintain a course going straight ahead as much as possible. The point of applying full power to the vehicle is that it will help the vehicle maintain a straight-forward course.
For some, this may seem counter intuitive, but it does make sense when you break it down. When a steer tire blows out, both the working tire and the blown out tire will pull in the direction of the blowout. At that point, your only hope is to rely on the four dive tires, which are always trying to push the vehicle in a straight line. By increasing forward thrust from the drive wheels, it helps to overcome the sideways pull of the blown tire. This will help overcome the sideways pull from the blowout.
Overcoming a Psychological Reaction
Of course, it is easy for us to write this out, but when a truck driver is in the seat, traveling down the highway at 70 mph, and they suddenly hear loud bang and immediate change in direction, how does one overcome the “natural instinct?”
Take a comparison between truck drivers and airplane pilots as one example. When a pilot needs to make a course correction, they have plenty of time to evaluate what kind of impact the move they make will have on the trajectory of the plane. A truck driver, on the other hand, literally may only have a second – or a fraction of a second – to make a critical life or death decision.
There are different reasons for tire blowouts that do not relate to tire maintenance. Whether it be from road debris or otherwise, truck drivers must put themselves in the mindset that if they suffer a steer tire blowout, it is critical they:
- Apply full power to the throttle;
- Make slight steering drift corrections, and;
- Decelerate slowly and pull over once the vehicle has stabilized.
The key thing to note is that this is not a maneuver truck drivers get to practice. It is something that they simply must deal with when it occurs. It is important not to get rattled or let emotions or fear overcome the right course of action.
For a little inspiration on doing the right thing, there are more than a few YouTube videos out there that amply demonstrate what happens when a truck driver incorrectly responds to a steer tire blowout. Don’t let that be you. Stay calm and stay safe and you will get through it.