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Automobile Accidents & Tires: Pressure, Stopping Distance

Automobile Accidents & Tires: Pressure, Stopping Distance - El Paso Chiropractic

There’s a lot of information about tires, far beyond the reviews and recommendations on a variety of websites. Here we’ll talk about, from a post-collision perspective, car specifications, standard tire information, and how tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) work. We will then analyze how tire pressures relate to automotive collisions.

Vehicle Specifications

Vehicles offered in the United States have a placard in the driver’s door jamb or internal door. This placard contains some advice we need to explore the tires including the vehicle manufacturer recommended load rating tire size, and tire pressure. Here’s an example:

Tires Evaluation 1 - El Paso Chiropractor

(there’s a second placard particularly for tires but this should be supported contrary to the above mentioned placard as the next one does not include any vehicle identifying information such as a VIN. In this picture the last six digits of the VIN have been omitted.)

Tires Evaluation 2 - El Paso Chiropractor

Tire Size

The majority of modern tires have writing on the sidewall which explains the tires measurements as well as other critical characteristics. What does it imply? Sizes for front and back are recorded. The 265 is the width, in millimeters, of the face. The next number, 70, is that the height of the tire sidewall for a percentage of the tread face (in this instance 70 percent of those 265). The “R” creates the tire structure a radial. Finally, the 17 is sized diameter in inches.

Tire Pressure

Notice that the listed tire pressure is assumed to be chilly. Tires have to sit at least eight hours from direct sunlight before they are deemed enough. Gases expand as they are heated and also the minimal cold pressure is put so that the scooter will be at the optimal pressure once at operating temperature; accordingly, if a bicycle is at or below the minimum and is at operating temperature, the strain was lower when the tire was cold.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

The TPMS became a mandated normal after the fallout of the Ford Explorer & Firestone bicycle event. The federal government needed a system that would alert drivers to “non” tire pressure(s). There are two types of systems. The first type is called “direct measurement” and it uses a detector inside each tire which relays the strain. The second kind is known as “indirect dimension” and it utilizes the anti-lock brake method to determine if a tire is spinning faster than others. A bicycle with air pressure that is less will have a diameter that is smaller and will spin faster; this difference can be calculated by the brake system.

The gap in either system comes when we examine how this system decides to warn the motorist. Because the pressures at a tire can differ for a few reasons (we only discussed how temperature is one of these) that the TPMS doesn’t search for a single pressure, but rather an array or minimum strain. The setup within the computer of the vehicle only illuminates the warning light when a tire’s pressure is outside the specifications that are preselected.

Many studies by the national authorities, independent organizations, and tire producers all support substandard performance of tires where the tires are below the recommended pressure. The research have three points of discussion.

  • 71 percent of drivers check tire pressure less than a month.

  • More than 1/3 of passenger cars surveyed had at least one tire at or below 20 percent of their placard.

  • Only 36 percent of vehicles tested would find a warning light at 20 percent or more below the placard.
The first point is not a surprise. The absence of frequent tire pressure maintenance is part of why the federal government mandated the TPMS system. The next point is also not surprising. If the majority (71\%) does not regularly check tire pressure, it should be anticipated tires are below the recommended pressure. The point is that the one we want to concentrate on. We want to focus on this fact since the majority of passenger car worries are 30 PSI; 20 percent less is 24 PSI.

If 100 passenger vehicles were on the road, 36 of these would have a minumum of one tire at 20\% below the placard pressure. Of those 36 vehicles, just 13 of them would have a warning light. (For the record it’s not much better for your light truck / SUV category.)

So now we know a third of those vehicles on the street have an underinflated tire and additional only a third of those vehicles have a warning light. The question is does 6 PSI thing? Yes, it does. Testing done by Goodyear and the NHTSA supported decrease in managing a reduction in pressure results in greater stopping distances, increase in blowouts, lower fuel economy, and tire wear.

Putting it All Together

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) also regularly studies tire related accidents. 1 study found approximately 9 percent of all collisions are tire related. In 2012, out of the 5.6 million authorities reported accidents, 504,000 were related.

For simplicity, we will assume each the accidents involved one car making the total 5.6 million. 725,000 would possess the warning lighting if we utilize the proportions more than 2 million would have at least one tire that is underinflated, in the table. Increasing the amount of vehicles only increases the statistics.

When deciding causality, you will find 504,000 tire related collisions as reported previously and also this misunderstood and often overlooked fact is omitted when attempting to determine the culpable party. It’s because of this that upkeep that tire pressures should be ascertained immediately post-accident rather than only focus on skid marks (though they are equally important in the equation important) because demonstrative evidence when trying to reconstruct accidents in the pursuit of discovering causality.

In Part 2 we will discuss how these variables affect tire performance that further provides demonstrative evidence to the accident reconstructionist, accident investigator and lawyer.

Green-Call-Now-Button-24H-150x150-2.pngThe scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .


National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (2012). Traffic Safety Facts 2012. Retrieved from

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (2013, june 28). SAFETY ADVISORY: NHTSA Urges Drivers to Check Tires During Hot Weather. Retrieved from

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (2013, June). The Problem. Retrieved from

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (n.d.). TIRE PRESSURE SURVEY AND TEST RESULTS. Retrieved from

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (n.d.). Tire Pressure Final. Retrieved from

Additional Topics: Auto Injury Playlist

Whiplash is a commonly reported injury after an individual has been involved in an automobile accident. During an auto accident, the sheer force of the impact often causes the head and neck of the victim to jerk abruptly, back-and-forth, causing damage to the complex structures surrounding the cervical spine. Chiropractic care is a safe and effective, alternative treatment option utilized to help decrease the symptoms of whiplash.

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The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to contact us. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN* email: phone: 915-850-0900 Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*