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.