How a Single Loose Tire Can Become a Deadly 'Missile' on the Highway

Driving along a road with loose or damaged tires could cost someone their life.

Driving along a road with loose or damaged tires could cost someone their life. 

There are countless videos online showing tires ripping off cars or trucks, and smashing through windshields or slamming into pedestrians. In some cases, people manage to escape just in the nick of time, but others aren't so fortunate

Robert Martinez, 64, was killed in August while driving on a New York City expressway when a tire came loose from a private sanitation truck and struck his car. Last year, Julieanna Shedrawy, a 48-year-old mother of two, died after a wheel from a pickup truck crashed through her windshield and killed her. 

Dane Kelly told Inside Edition he was driving along a Detroit highway earlier this year when a tire came out of nowhere and crashed into the side of his Ford Focus. 

"My car was totaled," he said. "I came inches from being crushed. It was something I never thought could happen to me in a million years and it did."

Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero set out with New York State Police Sgt. Joseph Perusse, who's a part of a special safety inspection team that seeks to prevent incidents like this from happening. 

Perusse said that highways are littered with loose treads, signs of tires that have been shredded to pieces at high speeds

"If that came into your windshield..." Guerrero said. 

"It could cause a lot of damage," Perusse finished. 

Tires are a critical component of Perusse's team's inspections. As Inside Edition watched, he took a truck off the road that had a tire with no tread on one side. 

"This is a tire while going down the road could blow out," Perusse said. "Hopefully today, we are going to prevent that."

"This tire is so bad, it could blow up today?" Guerrero asked.

"It could blow up on the road today, it's possible," Perusse replied. 

"Because you guys saw it and stopped it and inspected it, it could safe a life, including the life of this driver," Guerrero said. 

"Absolutely," he answered. 

Crash reconstruction expert Michael Markushewski showed Inside Edition what can cause tires to fall off. Markushewski serves as the chief technical officer at ARCCA, located in Pennsylvania.

"Oftentimes it happens after a vehicle has been serviced [and] the wheels are not put on properly, they aren't torqued properly to the proper tightness, and over time, the wheel and lug nut can come loose and eventually come off altogether," Markushewski said. 

He loosened some lug nuts as part of a demonstration. Eventually, the tire fell off completely. 

"If this were to happen on a freeway or on a highway and we were traveling 60 miles an hour, what would have happened?" Guerrero asked. 

"This would have become a missile going into traffic along the roadway," Markushewski said.