Road Debris From Semi Trucks – How Gators Cause Accidents!

Road debris is an underestimated, yet serious cause of many vehicle and truck accidents each year. Of all road debris, tire parts are especially common and result in a high number of semi truck wrecks and passenger vehicle crashes. Accident attorneys point out that tire debris poses a threat to all vehicles on the road and are often caused by poor tire maintenance and other controversial practices used by commercial carriers. To prevent semi truck accidents involving other vehicles, it is important to understand the dangers of road debris from big rig tires.

What Are Road Gators?

Tire debris or "gators" have that strange-sounding name because they look like the back of an alligator. They are actually strips and chunks of truck tires frequently found scattered across the highways. Gators are one of the most commonly encountered types of road debris in the U.S. due to the high number of commercial trucks on the highway and a prevaling issue of poor tire maintenance.

When other vehicles are hit by or drive over this debris at high speeds, truck accidents and collisions involving other vehicles are common. According to a study by AAA Foundatiion For Traffic Safety, road debris such as truck gators is responsible for as many as 40,000 accidents and a contributing factor in as many as 125 fatalities every year.1

What Causes Road Gators?

Tire gators are caused in two different ways. The first way is from retreaded tires that lose their rubber while a truck is traveling on the road. The strip of rubber shears off the wheel, flying into the air and landing on the roadway. The second cause of gators is tire blowouts, which often leave chunks of rubber on the highway.

In both situations, the thick, hard rubber that flies from commercial tires poses a direct threat to everyone else on the road. It can strike other vehicles as it is flying off the truck or another vehicle could drive over it and lose control. Blowouts and loss of tread are both causes of semi truck accidents.

Retreads and Poor Tire Maintenance

Tire maintenance has been a long-standing safety concern in the trucking industry because there are many commercial trucks on the roadways driving damaged, underinflated, or overinflated tires. This poor maintenance is a large factor in a number of semi truck wrecks each year.

One way commercial carriers attempt to get around the high cost of replacing truck tires is with retreading, which is a method of reconditioning worn tires to drive them longer. Although safety agencies report that retreads are safe and no more likely to blow out or strip than standard tires, this practice has met with much controversy within the commercial carrier industry and from attorneys who deal with truck tire accident cases. Many of these individuals feel that retreads are more likely to fail and are opposed to this practice.

In either case, both retreads and regular tires must be carefully maintained to prevent the blowouts and tread stripping that can cause serious semi truck accidents. Accident attorneys point out that poor tire maintenance can result in the road gators that are often responsible for accidents involving other vehicles. Not only must commercial carriers take a more positive stance in reducing tire-related semi truck wrecks; they must also realize how this type of truck accidents affects all other travelers on the roads!

1AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety: The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014, August 2016


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