Monday, August 2, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021

(Road) Gators ahead!


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Road gators. We’ve all seen them, and often had to dodge them. Those big old, ugly chunks of tire tread lurking out there on the interstates and highways of the country. Mostly they just lay there, but sometimes, with a little nudge from a passing vehicle, they fly up in the air and do serious damage to body work and windshields. More often, the unfortunate driver who can’t avoid them hits them, and suffers under-body damage, torn up tires of their own, even gashed fuel tanks.

So what’s the best way to deal with an unexpected road gator? Insurance outfit Allstate has a great interest in seeing less gator-vehicle interactions. To that end the company posted tips on their blog, helping drivers get the hang of gator-dodging.

Heads up: If you see chunks of rubber in front of you, increasing in size, suspect a rig ahead of you has let loose a gator. If you see a big-rig hitting the shoulder up ahead, there’s another “take warning” tip. Another tip-off? Sudden brake light action may indicate other drivers on safari.

Slow it down: Swerving to avoid a gator can put you in danger. SLOW IT DOWN before you swerve. Keep control of your rig, don’t lose it – results of loss-of-control can be a lot worse than smacking the gator.

Get around the big rigs: When you pass a big rig, you stand a better chance of a close encounter of the “rubber reptilian” kind. So don’t cruise along beside a big rig needlessly, especially if you sense the tell-tale sounds of tire corruption: “Whop, whop, whop, whop” is a signal of a possible gator-producing tire separation.

Watch your shoulder: If the lane ahead of you is occupied by a ghastly gator, the shoulder may be an out. But don’t do a quick swerve there – ease your shoulder-side tires off the lane, but keep the other tires on the lane. And look out! There could be other gators lurking on the shoulder. Smoothly move the rig back into the lane once you’re past the danger.




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1 year ago

I encountered my first road gator last year. I was driving through Denver and had a semi on each side of me and a Suburban in front of me. The Suburban made a slight move to the right and then I saw the road gator on the driver’s side in my lane. I had very little wiggle room but was able to move to the right and stay in my lane. But I could not move enough to avoid the gator; I missed it with my front tire but knew my rear dully’s were going to make contact. The sound I heard told me there was damage. Got off the freeway to check it out and the brace that holds the generator exhaust pipe in place was broken. I was very lucky. The exhaust pipe caught the gator which must have deflected it away from my rear tires. Used duct tape to temporarily hold the pipe up.

Tim Miller
1 year ago

Returning from a 6-week trip last year on our last day, we were passing a big rig, which threw an alligator and we unfortunately couldn’t avoid it. It tore up our muffler system, which wrapped around the driveshaft. Both sections of the driveshaft were bent. RV was towed by a big rig tow truck to repair facility. Luckily, we were close enough to our home that we unhooked our toad and drove home. One week and $2200 later, we had the RV back.

1 year ago

Had a gator come after me just as I passed a big rig on my motorcycle. I always get around those dudes as fast as I can.

1 year ago

About those Road Gators as we were approaching a big rig we could smell burning rubber & then saw smoke coming from one of its tires! We were able to get him as he was already pulling off to the side as the tire erupted into pieces. No harm or damage, but learned that if there is a big rig in front of you & you can smell burning rubber, you better be careful, as it’s the first sign of the re-capped tire coming apart!

Jim G.
1 year ago

Some believe that recapped, or retreaded, truck tires are an issue, but according to the Allstate blog, recent studies indicate “that up to 70 percent of full-sized road gators come from ‘virgin’ truck tires, while a similar percentage of smaller rubber chunks are from retreads.

1 year ago

Never ceases to amaze me how many drivers lallygag past big rigs. Speed up and around big rigs and get safely by, quit staying in the unsafe zone, other drivers will thank you. This is especially dangerous on uphill climbs, not only unsafe but backs up traffic for miles on end.

1 year ago

Driving on the interstate near our Florida home one afternoon, I spotted a road gator ahead in my lane. While taking evasive procedures, I wondered who had been driving with a white tire. As I got closer, I realized the road gator was a real—but dead— gator. The white was the belly.

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