FHP: Tire separation led to deadly crash on Florida's Turnpike

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- A five-year-old girl and 26-year-old woman are dead and three others were seriously injured after a horrific wreck in the northbound lanes of the Florida Turnpike on Tuesday.  Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol now say the driver of a silver Chevy SUV lost control of the car after a rear tire separated. 

According to the FHP, the SUV struck the guardrail; two passengers who died were ejected, then run over by a car hauler, right before it slammed into the SUV.  

The general manager of Russell's Automotive, Steve Alfieri, tells FOX 35 tire separation is more common than you think.  "It's a large problem. When that happens the tire goes down almost immediately," said Alfieri.
He says drivers need to pay close attention to their tires, and it's always good to do a visual check.  "That's called a wear bar. It's throughout all the tread area.  If this tread is equal to the wear bar, the tire needs to be replaced," said Alfieri. He says to make sure that the rubber does not look defective or have dry rot.  "Dry rot is over time the tire is breaking down, sun is beating down on it.  If you look close, this tire is unsafe. This tire is a good candidate to separate," said Alfieri.

Alfieri showed us a tire that separated.  "He says if you're in tune with how your car drives, you should be able to feel if there is a problem and your tire is about to separate," said Alfieri.  "You'll feel a vibration, you'll feel a pull, it will want drift to one side or the other and vibration, if the vibration gets worse as you're driving, you need to have it checked immediately."

Troopers tell FOX 35 during the hot summer months, they see more dangerous wrecks caused by tire separation.  Alfieri says it has to do with heat and people not paying attention to their tire pressure.  "Low air pressure will cause a tire to run hotter and that will assist in separation. That will speed up the process," said Alfieri.

FHP advises that if you do have a tire separate while you're driving, take your foot off the gas, do not slam on your brakes, try to keep your car straight and ride it out. 

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