GREENVILLE, S.C(Aug. 14, 2001)—A blowout can be a heart-stopping experience when traveling a crowded interstate at highway speeds. An incorrect driver response can be disastrous whereas the correct one helps keep the driver in control and the vehicle on the road, according to engineers at Michelin North America.
Should a blowout occur, Michelin experts advise doing something contrary to the instincts of the typical motorist—namely, moderately increasing pressure on the accelerator rather than jamming on the brakes.
"It´s just a natural instinct to hit the brakes when we realize a tire has lost air pressure," said David Jones, Michelin brand manager.
Nevertheless, "acceleration is the key to maintaining (the vehicle´s)
forward momentum and staying in control," he said.
Sudden braking in the case of a front tire blowout focuses the vehicle´s weight and forward motion on the flat tire, causing the vehicle to swerve, according to Michelin engineers. In a rear tire blowout, sudden braking throws the vehicle off balance, making steering difficult.
A quick tap on the accelerator, however, keeps the vehicle´s forward momentum constant and compensates for the pull and drag of the flat tire. That´s what helps the driver keep the vehicle under control. Removing the driver´s foot from gas pedal also helps, but accelerating is ideal, Michelin said.
In addition to accelerating, the driver should hold the steering wheel straight and only brake when the vehicle is under the driver´s control.
Mac DeMere, a test driver at Michelin´s Laurens Proving Ground in
South Carolina, said that this emergency procedure works in the event of a
front or rear blowout—and for both front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
"It´s important that people know what to do in an emergency situation such
as a blowout, because it happens so suddenly," said Mr. DeMere. "We´ve been
testing our tires for so long, we know that, whatever the road or traffic
conditions, this technique works."