Tyre bursts are a major cause of road accidents, especially on highways. Statistics show that more than 57 per cent of accidents on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway were due to tyre bursts. These four personalities lost their lives in such accidents
MARK MASCARENHAS died on Sunday, at the age of 44, in an accident at Kharbi, 80 km from Nagpur. He succumbed to head injuries after the Tata Sumo he was travelling in overturned due to a tyre burst. The president of WorldTel was instrumental in making Sachin Tendulkar an international celebrity brand worth millions of dollars.
NIRMAL BANG, a leading stockbroker with the Bombay Stock Exchange, died at the age of 39 in a tyre-burst accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on September 28, 2001.
MICHELE ALBORETO, the 44-year-old race car driver, died during a test drive for the Le Mans 24-hour race, when a wheel burst at the Lausitzring racetrack in Germany on April 25, 2001.
MICHELLE VADRA, sister-in-law of Priyanka Gandhi, died at the age of 32 when the tyres on the car she was travelling in burst on the Delhi-Jaipur highway in Rajasthan on April 16, 2001. Another woman also died and six others, including two children, were injured.Figures compiled by medical staff stationed at two toll nakas on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway show that Mark Mascarenhas's death on Sunday has brought into sharp focus the dangers of wheels bursting while vehicles are travelling at high speeds.
The 44-year-old WorldTel president died at Kharbi, 80 kilometres from Nagpur, when a tyre burst on the Tata Sumo he was driving, causing the car to overturn.
A large number of road accidents are caused by tyre bursts while vehicles travel at high speeds, especially on highways.
more than 57 per cent of accidents on that highway are caused by tyre bursts.
Prakash Kasbekar is medical director of Sterling Hospital, which is in charge of rushing medical aid to accident victims on the expressway that was commissioned in May 2000.
He said, "Of the 524 accidents reported on the expressway till date, over 300 were due to tyres bursting."
In the 524 accidents, 106 lives were claimed, almost half of them victims of tyre bursts.
Though tyres can burst due to a number of reasons, it is almost invariably due to high speeds, which can be put down to negligence on the part of the motorist.
According to Sujan Chaudhry, owner of the tyre dealership International Tyre Service, there are other ways motorists can be negligent.
For example, tyres may burst due to low air pressure, the tyres being too old or the treads being worn.
He said, "We examined around 300 tyre bursts and found that 90 per cent of the times they were a result of abuse by motorists."
Sumit Chaudhry, Sujan's son who is himself a tyre consultant, said, "Some people fit under-inflated or a different make of tyres onto their vehicles to increase the ride's comfort. This compromises the safety factor and can cause a burst at high speeds."
Tyres can also burst because cuts on them have been improperly repaired.
Ruling out the allegation that Indian tyres were not good enough for some roads, Sumit said manufacturing defects rarely cause tyre bursts.
He said there was an increased emphasis on manufacturing 'zero-defect' tyres.
While tyres coded S (standard speed) can travel at speeds of up to 160 kilometres an hour, those coded H (high speed) can do up to 230 kilometres an hour and V (very high speed) can travel faster than that. All these speeds are rarely reached on Indian roads.
What happens if...
If a tyre bursts while driving, it is best not to slam on the brakes. Instead, bring the car to a gradual halt.
Shapur Kotwal, assistant editor of Autocar India, said, "In case of a puncture, the sudden loss of pressure causes a blow-out and the vehicle becomes very difficult to control."
If the front tyres burst it is more dangerous than the rear tyres giving way.
Kotwal suggests the use of tubeless tyres, from which air escapes more slowly, giving the motorist enough time to bring the vehicle to a halt.
What you should do...
A few pointers for motorists to help prevent tyres bursting while driving:
* Regularly check tyre pressure. A visual check is a must every time you drive; use a gauge at least once a fortnight. Every time you go on the highway, retighten the wheel nuts.
* Ensure tyres are rotated every 10,000 kilometres. This helps distribute the wear and increase tyre life.
* Keep the best four tyres on. If you replace a better tyre with a bad spare, ensure that the worst of the four goes back into the spare's place.
* Inspect tyres carefully. Look for signs of uneven wear, especially on the front tyres. Uneven wear could be caused by various reasons, ranging from improper air pressure to a badly aligned suspension.
* Get wheels balanced regularly; steering vibration at particular speeds is often caused by wheel imbalance.