This study aims at examining tyre characteristics of motor vehicles and how tyres with inappropriate characteristics when combined with high ambient temperature fail and lead to traffic accidents. The first phase of this study involved assessing characteristics of tyres (like temperature rating, tread wear index, production year, etc.) to see how likely these tyres could survive high ambient temperature. Tyres in a sample of 582 randomly selected cars in Riyadh (capital of Saudi Arabia) were checked. The second phase involved assessing causes of traffic accidents to try to determine if the number of accidents caused by tyre failure increased with high ambient temperatures. Results of the first phase showed that there were a substantial percentage of cars with inadequate tyre characteristics which made them vulnerable to failure in high ambient temperatures. The most striking findings were that 23% of the cars surveyed had tyres with “B” or “C” temperature rating and 8% of the tyres were 4 or more years old. Results of the second phase showed that the number of accidents due to tyre failure peaked between June and September (hottest months of the year) and that most accidents happened between noon and 4 pm when the temperature reaches its peak. It is concluded that many cars have tyres with inadequate characteristics. This, when combined with high ambient temperature, have the potential to cause traffic accidents due to tyre failure. Practical recommendations to combat this phenomenon are finally given.
Keywords: tyre failure; road traffic accidents; tyre characteristics; high ambient temperature