Watching out for Road Gators
Spring is approaching and that means it’s also peak road trip season. During this time, there’s an increase in “road gators” on interstates with speed limits of 70 or 75mph. What is a road gator? They are pieces of tire that lie on the road and have the appearance of an alligator’s back. The more formal definition is that they’re treads that have detached from the tires of heavier trucks. They can range anywhere from 8-10 feet long and weigh over 70 pounds. Road gators can be extremely dangerous and cause accidents.
Road gators have been known to:
• Slice open oil pans
• Rip off steering components
• Smash through windshields
• Cause panicked drivers to swerve themselves into an accident in an attempt to avoid them
Here are a few dodging techniques that may help you avoiding road gators:
• Always look far ahead of you on the road. If you see increasingly large pieces of rubber lying around it probably means a truck tire just shed its tread and there might be a road gator in your lane.
• If you’re travelling and notice brake lights and swerving cars ahead of you, slow down.
• If you come across a road gator in your lane, radically reduce your speed before maneuvering. According to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study, swerving at highway speeds in order to avoid debris results in roughly 25,000 accidents each year.
• If you hit a road gator, try to remain as calm as possible and in control of your vehicle. Aggressive steering only makes things worse.
• Never lollygag when driving beside a big rig. Following this rule is extremely important especially if you hear sounds. An uneven howl or a continuous “whap whap whap” noise are indicators that a tire might soon shed its tread.
• Sometimes the shoulders of interstates are your best friend. In the event that you need to swerve around a road gator, the shoulder may offer adequate traction. If you spot a road gator, remain calm and drive smoothly toward the shoulder. Note that shoulders may be dirty and slippery and is sometimes a home to road gators, so should slowly and smoothly turn back onto the interstate.