Recently, a vehicle ambush in Nigeria gained attention on social media. The incident involved two cars, with the principal’s vehicle coming under heavy fire. Despite the attack, the principal and his driver managed to escape unharmed. The vehicle’s run-flat tires played a significant role in the successful escape.
A quote from an article describing the ambush:
“They pursued us and continued firing at our tires. Luckily, the vehicle has what is called run-flat tires on which you can continue driving even after a puncture. So, even when they shot at the tires, hoping to immobilize us, the vehicle continued moving. If they were ordinary tires and the vehicle had stopped, they would corner and finish us. But the tires held on until we got back home. We drove for about 20 minutes before we got home. That was the saving grace.”
As the article stated, while the vehicle’s armor was certainly necessary, it’s equally crucial to highlight the role that run-flat tires played in enabling the driver to escape the dangerous situation.
We have recommended run-flat tires for all executive vehicles for many years, as they offer security and safety. In the case of a flat tire, the vehicle needs to have the capability of driving to a safe location.
Two Main Systems
There are two main types of run-flat tire systems: the self-supporting system and the run-flat insert. The self-supporting system features reinforced sidewalls that can support the vehicle in case of air loss. However, tire blowouts are still possible with self-supporting tires if the puncture occurs on the sidewall or if the tire hits a large object.
The run-flat insert system uses a ring of hard rubber or other material to support the vehicle’s weight in case of air loss.
There are two types of run-flat inserts. One supports the tire tread so that the wheel rims don’t damage the sidewalls. The other uses a ring of hard rubber or a polymer liner to support the vehicle’s weight in case of air loss. This type is better for rough terrain but is not easy to install or remove.
Lessons and Recommendations
Training programs should consider the benefits and limitations of these tires when equipping an operational vehicle with run-flat tires. While conducting a forensic analysis of a vehicle ambush, we (Vehicle Dynamics Institute and International Security Driver Association) discovered that driving in reverse with flat tires with or without a vehicle equipped with run-flat devices can be difficult and, at times, dangerous.
Pictures are included of Run Flat Inserts in an article from a Vehicle Dynamics Institute test on Run Flats – Just How Far Will a Run Flat Run, If a Run Flat Must Run
We put together the pros and cons of both systems in our Podcast Episode 177 – Basic Outline of CG, Tires, Run Flats on Armored Vehicles.
Also, International Security Driver Association Member Gerardo Corona’s article about Run Flats goes beyond the concept of using Run Flats and gets into the effectiveness of an ambush scenario; also a must-read.
The Wildcard of Security Driving: Run-Flat Inserts – Part 1
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