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It’s summer in Tennessee. That means that things get heated up on the roadways suck as I-81. It also means that road gators could be lurking about, ready to strike.

What is a road gator?

While it’s true that we do have alligators in Tennessee, a road gator is not an actual animal. It is the blown out tire tread from a semi that lies in the road. Called road gators, these pieces of debris can cause serious accidents as drivers swerve to avoid them. Road gators can also fly up off of moving semitruck tires and hit your car or windshield causing you to stop suddenly or to not be able to see what is in front of you.

Top 3 causes of road gators

  1. Underinflation is the number one cause of a semi-truck tire blowout. A tire is meant to be inflated to handle the weight of both the semi and its load. When not properly inflated, the tire will be forced to flex beyond its limit and blow.
  2. Hot weather and hot road surfaces can mean more road gators. Overheating breaks down the tire’s fabric and the bonds that hold the different layers of rubber together. May through October means more road gators in Tennessee.
  3. Wear and tear can mean a blown tire and road gator. Truck drivers and those who service the truck should be aware the the age, tread and condition of all of a truck’s tires before and after each haul. When proper service and replacement doesn’t happen, road gators are born.

While the moniker is humorous, the hazard and accidents that road gators cause are not. Semitruck tire blow outs have caused serious and deadly accidents on our nation’s interstates. A howl, or “whap-whap-whap” sound coming from a big rig ahead of you is a warning that a tire is likely to blow.

How to best avoid a road gator

If you are on the interstate cruising at a high rate of speed and a road gator is on the road assess your options. First, stay calm and reduce your speed. If the gator is a small flap of rubber and you are able to drive safely over it this may be the best option. If the gator is large and will hit the undercarriage of your car you will want to avoid it by moving to the shoulder if possible. You need only to be inches, not feet, from the gator, so do not “over-swerve.”  Remember to keep two tires in the traffic lane as you move around the gator. Then slowly move fully back into your lane.

Road gators in Tennessee can be the cause of serious accidents and even death. Those who have been injured because of a road gator should speak with a personal injury attorney who handles serious motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death.