At first glance, the story seems bizarre. Sadly, it’s all too common.

A man driving an SUV along I-64 near Charleston, West Virginia (WV), on the morning of April 4, 2014, wound up seriously injured and trapped in his vehicle by a tire that had come off a nearby pickup truck, bounced up from the highway and crashed through his windshield. Television station WSAZ 3 reported that the man’s injuries were not life-threatening, and also that the accident should not have occurred.



The tire separated from the pickup truck because either its owner or a service atation did not tigthen the lug nuts sufficiently. That mistake can be easy to make, but it is even easier to avoid. All vehicles come with manuals that specify the amount of torque needed to secure the nuts that hold tires in place. And as explained in the news video above, even people who have never read those specs can judge how much to tighten down lug nuts just by feeling the force they had to use to get the fasteners loose.

Improperly securing a tire can constitute operating an unsafe vehicle. It can also create potentially deadly situations like the one on the interstate outside West Virginia’s capital. Or actually lead to deaths, as happened near Richmond, Virginia in May 2010. In fact, tire blowouts and loose tires cause a large number of crashes involving tractor-trailers, cars and buses.

All vehicle owners and operators owe it to themselves and others on the road to ensure their tires are in good condition and tightly bolted into place.