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Mass Tire Punctures on a California highway

| Photo: YouTube (ABC7 Eyewitness News)
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Daniel Rufiange
When one flat tire isn’t enough… how about some 30 at once?

•    More than 30 drivers suffer flat tires at the same time on a California highway this week.

•    Presumably, a box of nails or other sharp objects fell onto on the road off a vehicle.

•    Flat tires are generally rare, but they can have serious consequences if they occur in the wrong place.

Flat tires are an inevitable part of driving a vehicle, especially when it’s driven a lot. In rare cases, you may inherit a defective tire. You might happen to run over a nail or a piece of debris that punctures the rubber of one tire. Here in Canada, of course, there’s always the risk of hitting one of our infamous potholes that have been known to reduce tires and rims to rubble.

On the highways of California, that’s less likely, if only because cracks and holes are much rarer there. You can still get a flat tire, but the chances are much smaller.

Which makes the event this week that much more improbable. A long line of vehicles on one of the state’s highways was forced to the curb because they’d suffered a flat tire. A surreal scene.

In all, according to the California Highway Patrol, 36 drivers ended up with flat tires on the 405 freeway near Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. A video shows vehicles lined up, one behind the other on the shoulder, with tow trucks called in to assist.

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The good news is that no injuries were reported. I’ve driven through this area dozens of times, and I can confirm the six-to-eight lanes of the highway are often crowded with vehicles traveling at speeds over 100 km/h. The scene could have been catastrophic.

And what could have caused such a crush? According to police authorities, the flat tires may have been caused by a box of nails, or other such debris, that dropped off a vehicle onto the surface of the roadway. No foul play is suspected.

The video of the aftermath shows some of the motorists changing their tires or having them changed. But it must be understood that some newer vehicles no longer have a spare tire.

Certainly, many motorists who passed by this location will need to check their tires before getting back on the road.

An incredible scene, to say the least. And a compelling reminder to take a look at your tires before you get back on the road. We tend to take them for granted, but it’s always possible your tires might pick up debris that could eventually lead to a flat.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists