Fatal crash highlights importance of tire safety

- State troopers say tire failure caused a crash that killed a 20-year-old driver at Interstate 275 and 4th Street N in St. Petersburg Saturday evening.

It's one of thousands of tire-related crashes in Florida every year. Officials say nearly 1,500 people were injured and 57 were killed last year in tire-related crashes in Florida. They say many such crashes could be prevented if drivers were more vigilant about the condition of their tires.

"I'm suggesting that you always check your tire pressure a minimum of once a month," said Craig Knarich, owner of Pit Crew Tire Service in Palm Harbor. "Always inflate your tires when they're cool in the morning.”

Knarich showed us a tire that appeared fine on the outside, but had a hidden danger on the inside.

"This is what happens to a tire when it's been run low on air," he said, pointing to a line inside the tire. "If you look right here you'll see this black line, it's cut.”

We showed him a photo of the tire that came apart causing the crash in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

"I see a tire that was run low on air and running low on air it will actually run the tread right off the wheel," Knarich offered.

Highway safety officials held a press conference in Tallahassee saying it’s a good time to take a hard look at your tires.

"It's the first point of contact with the roadway. So, we want to make sure that they are in good condition, they are not dry-rotted, and they are properly inflated. That way, while the vehicle is traveling and the tires start to heat up, they will be able to accommodate that vehicle's load," said Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Knarich said nitrogen performs better for tire inflation than regular air, but either way, he says keep a close eye on your tire pressure to remain safe on the highway.

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