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Why road gators are so deadly

Living in Louisiana we all know what a gator is. But a road gator is not an alligator: It is a blown tire, usually from a 16 wheeler. The blown-out tire pieces are called gators because of their dark color and  arched, ridged texture which can resemble an alligator on the road. 

Blown semi truck tires in Lafayette are more common, and potentially more hazardous, than we might think. (Of course, hitting a live gator on the road is a very real possibility as this video shows.) 

Why tire blow-outs are hazardous

  • Tire blowouts are sudden. Blowouts typically happen when a truck is going fast. This can cause a driver to lose control. Because of a truck's size and weight this can mean a jackknife, collision or even a rollover. 
  • When a tire blows the rubber pieces get strewn onto the roadway. These pieces or "gators" can be in the path of unsuspecting drivers and can cause motorists to also lose control or swerve into another lane, oncoming traffic, or into a ditch. 
  • Road gator pieces can also fly up and hit a windshield or cause damage to the undercarriage of a car. 

Top 5 causes of road gators

There are many reasons why a big rig might blow a tire. Here are the top 5. 

  1. Tire delamination/ tread separation: Usually caused by over-loading or underinflation. 
  2. The tire is defective or worn out.
  3. The tire is under or over-inflated. Excessive heat can affect tire pressure. 
  4. The truck is  overloaded.
  5. Excessive braking by the driver caused premature wear. 

If you suspect a truck's tire may blow, stay far behind the truck or better yet, pull off the road for a few minutes. If driving near a semi with a worn tire you may hear a flapping or a whirring sound before the tire blows. 

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