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Tire blows: RV ripped in two. How to prevent this happening to you

On March 23, a motorhome towing a Jeep with a motor scooter on back blew a front, right side tire along I-75 in Sarasota County, Florida. The 49-year-old driver did not know how to respond and consequently lost control. In a flash, the RV and car were off the road, sideways in a ditch. The motorhome’s right side was completely sheared off by a pine tree.

The driver was shaken, but okay. But the 44-year-old woman passenger was seriously injured and subsequently airlifted to a nearby hospital.

State Patrol Officer Kenn Watson offered this advice about how to act in such a situation to a Suncoast News Network TV reporter: “You want to go ahead and maintain control of that steering wheel and gently guide that vehicle to the shoulder,” he said. “Making any quick movements with that steering wheel will only exacerbate those problems causing that vehicle to lose control and then strike trees.”

One of the most important videos you will ever watch

And for RVtravel.com readers who have not watched the RV tire safety video from Michelin about how to respond in this same situation, here it is. We post this video at least twice a year because it’s so important. Readers have told us what they learned may have later saved their lives.

We highly recommend you take a few minutes to watch this, and then memorize its advice, which applies to all vehicles, not just motorhomes. If you choose not to watch, just remember, above all, to never hit your brakes in such a situation.


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WILLIAM C CLINTON
1 month ago

My average freeway speed is 55-60 in 31 foot MH. I see other RV’s blowing by me at 70 and above. Any type of failure at 70 is much more likely to not end well versus the same failure at 55-60.

John_Brown
1 month ago

This is sort of how fixing a possible roll over when off camber when 4x4ing works. If you are about to roll downhill sideways, you turn down hill, and give it the gas, and the vehicle will be heading downhill instead of rolling over, because the front axle will pull it in line. Of course some places are so steep, facing downhill is scary by itself.

captain gort
1 month ago

Good video! Stepping on the gas seems counter-intuitive…but hey…they did the actual testing. Good to know! One small point: “John” says “make sure that your tires are inflated to the minimum pressure required for the load”. I’d fine-tune that to “make sure that your tires are inflated to AT LEAST the minimum pressure required to the load” The Michelins on my Sequoia are rated for max load at 44 PSI cold. That’s where I set them when I tow my rig. But when not towing, I lower them a bit for a softer ride and more even tire wear.

Dennis G.
1 month ago

… Call it Yaw in aircraft flight. This is why you must add an opposite force through the steering wheel to counteract the force (unwanted vehicle direction).
Our first job in an emergency situation is to drive the vehicle, and keep it on the road. If the vehicle is barely in control, after a tire blow-out, accelerating briefly, will stop you from slamming on the brakes, making your situation worse. Once you have regained some control, begin decelerating, and then slowly applying the brakes. Once you have slowed the coach, begin to pull off the road in a safe location.

D.C.
1 month ago

This informational video is very helpful and very relevant. Thanks RVtravel. The FHP posted photos of the actual accident and although they had reported that the Class A blew its front passenger tire, the photos also show that it lost its front drivers wheel as well. This poor guy had his hands full, and for all of you seasonal Florida visitors, you should know that the roads down here have very soft shoulders and usually don’t have a significant emergency lane, if they have one at all. After all, Florida is just a big sandbar. Once you leave the pavement, you are done. Having the 5,000lb Jeep and the 900lb motorcycle pushing him didn’t help either.

Dennis G.
1 month ago

Have had two tires in my life rapidly loose air (IE. blow-out). The first time there was a so-called side pull. I would say the tire caused a rolling resistance which is what was causing the steering to be pulled. The second time, the tire exploded, shook the vehicle violently at 65 mph, but we pulled over safely.
The reason for adding power with the accelerator is Newton’s law. An object in motion stays in motion. IE. Keeping the coach moving forward. (Let’s face it, an RV does not accelerate rapidly at speed.) Then Newton’s third law is For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The blown tire is slowing the coach’s forward momentum, and subsequently that slowing is making the vehicle turn to that side. >

Patty
1 month ago

We had the option to get the TYRON blowout protection in the front tires when we bought the 2018 Newmar LondonAire.

J J
1 month ago

Here is a local story and yes, there was a tag axle: https://www.snntv.com/story/46133504/rv-sliced-in-half-after-swerving-off-i75-in-north-port

Click on the picture/video and you’ll see more pics of the interior and exterior.

Joseph Phebus
1 month ago

Thanks for posting this video. I wasn’t aware of this

I’m a little baffled by the negative comments and contrarians. Call me crazy, but I think one of the major tire manufacturers with multiple studies, safety tests and the laws of physics at their disposal might know something about the best way to react in a rapid tire air loss situation.

Patty
1 month ago

If you google Motorhome wreck in Sarasota Florida it pulls up the story.
It looked like an older Motorhome with a tag axle, it was towing a large motorcycle on the back lift and towing a crossover with bikes on the back. A lot of load in the back!! I bet the front wheelers were barely on the ground?

J J
1 month ago
Reply to  Patty

The tag axle is to support more weight. I’d bet otherwise, that they were well within their limits.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

One of the hardest things to learn about driving almost anything is ditching the automatic response (and natural instinct) of stepping on the brake the moment ANYTHING goes wrong. Cars, motorhomes, big trucks, anything. This is learned, not taught.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Especially true when on ice or snow. Slam on the brakes, lock up the wheels… no control.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
DW/ND
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Watching the TechnoRv video of his right front blowout, one can quickly realize the automatic response or impulse to brake – was instantly overcome because he had the cruise control on at about 65 mph and it applied power to maintain speed! I watch these videos many times a year – also had a Class A license – never a blowout – but I still wonder how I would “instantly” respond. Like you say it’s “automatic”. I hope the “doubters” watch and learn – because I might be along side of them. (Hope I can respond instantly and not instinctively!)

COD
1 month ago

This video looks like it was made before low cost TPMS were widely available. I didn’t get all the way through it, but a TPMS that gives you warning of unexpected deflation has to be part of the defense here. Knowing what to do after a blowout is also important, although I was taught to take my foot off the gas and maintain control as I slow down. I’m having a hard time believing “floor it” is ever the right move when losing control of a vehicle. In their diagram of forces acting on the RV in a blowout, they completely ignore the increased friction from the tire no longer being inflated.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  COD

True. TPMS can’t do much about a catastrophic blowout, but it can warn you of a leaking tire that WILL blow out soon. That’s much more likely than a sudden explosion.

Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  COD

The increased friction is one of the components of the side force vector, along with the affected corner dropping.

Don
1 month ago

Not that it matters much, but a quick look at the photo shows that the text is way off the mark. This coach wasn’t “towing a jeep with a motor scooter on the back”. It had a very large motorcycle (a Honda Gold Wing) on a lift on the back of the coach, and was towing the jeep behind that. I can’t tell if the coach had a tag axle, but if it did NOT, then the effect of that 1,500 lbs of motorcycle and lift hanging off the rear bumper may well have adversely effected the handling of the coach in this situation. Sloppy reporting, guys… 🙁

Merv
1 month ago

“Step on the accelerator”, what, are you out of your mind??? Slowly decelerate while maintaining control of the steering wheel and then gently move over to the shoulder once sufficiently slowed down, and only then gently apply brakes to come to a complete stop. Note the repetition of the word, “gently”.

Bob Garbe
1 month ago

Theory, without practice, is rarely useful, and to imply that this poor individual could have been safe by looking at a video is inaccurate and disingenuous. You have no idea what the handling circumstances were with this big rig hauling all that stuff behind them, and neither does the trooper. The characteristics of the road apron, the ground consistence, the crown of the road surface etc. all contribute to the outcome as well as the stability of the motorhome itself. Many front flats are probably not recoverable at all, just got to ride it out.

Maybe a motorhome driving school with a real experiance of a front flat would contribute to at least a modicum of increased safety, but other than telling you what you should have done after the fact, this video will do nothing.

Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Garbe

If you paid attention to the introduction he clearly stated that there is no guarantee and circumstances may change the outcome. However the message is clear and supported by actual test track experience that under most conditions this approach is the best alternative to panic. I have not yet had a flat tire, much less a rapid loss of air on any of my RV tires in over 250,000 miles so I do not know how I would actually react even though I have watched this video every year for at least 15 years. My only road experience was a rear tire blowout on I 90 40 years ago and I don’t remember what i did with my feet other than stay off the brake until I knew I was continuing in a straight line.

Denise Bovee
1 month ago

Thank you for posting this! I didn’t know this and am so glad that this article is here! I did have a “blow out”, but it was on my Dually! The TPMS system warned me and we got off the interstate right away. Now I know what to do so that we can be safe! Thanks again!