A violent, fatal collision shut down two lanes of Interstate 15 Thursday morning. Witnesses said David Nelson’s Toyota Camry veered onto the dirt shoulder, rolled several times and caught on fire. California Highway Patrol investigators immediately focused on the possibility of a blown tire as the cause.
Late Thursday morning, Nelson was identified as the lone victim. Authorities say he worked for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, and lived in Victorville.
This is one of about half a dozen traffic deaths in recent weeks attributed to tire problems, according to the CHP.
"In the summer months, we do see a spike (in crashes)," said Officer Hope Maxson, of the CHP San Bernardino office. "People are driving on bald tires, people are driving on tires with not enough tread.”
Dave Kuma has been in the tire business nearly three decades. He knows what makes tires go bad, and it's not always what you'd think.
“If the tire's in the back, a lot of times they don’t know it and that’s when it flips ‘em,” said Kuma.
Kuma says heat is also a factor that can adversely effect tires, even new ones. And then there's the tough economic times, causing some people to put off tire replacement, or even servicing.
"We’ve seen a lot lately because of the heat outside and in the desert," said Kuma. We’ve had treads come off.”
The rule of thumb, Kuma says, is tires should be replaced after four to six years. Even if they look good, there might be a potentially dangerous defect present as tires grow old.