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The Problem With Road Gators

Closeup of tire blowout on 18-wheeler

Truck tire blowouts are common and dangerous, but that’s only half the story. The remains of these blowouts can cause their own problems and are so notorious that they have a unique name, “road gators.” But what are road gators, and why are they a problem? Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Road Gators?

Road gators (so-called because they look like an alligator’s back) are what’s left in the road after a truck tire blowout. Typically, they are 6-8ft long and weigh between 75-100lbs. Worst of all, they may contain bits of steel wire that can puncture your tires or shred your undercarriage. If you see a road gator, you should avoid it as it can wreak havoc on your vehicle or even cause a crash.

But just how common are crashes caused by road gators? According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck tire blowouts directly cause about 11,000 fatalities per year, and the road gators left behind may contribute to another 75,000 crashes. In total, there are about 200,000 crashes caused by road debris each year, which means that tire scraps are responsible for about 37% of those. But for as many crashes as road gators cause, pursuing justice can be even harder.

An Insurance Paradox

Road gators and other debris are only part of the problem. A study by AAA found that about 4-in-10 crashes involving road debris were caused by the driver hitting another car when they swerved to avoid the crash. That creates a new problem, the “Road Gator Paradox.”

Say you hit the road debris. You damage your vehicle and run the risk of losing control. When you go to file a claim, the insurance company will most likely argue that road debris is completely avoidable and will try to assign you all of the fault, even if there was nothing you could do to avoid hitting it.

On the other hand, if you swerve to avoid the debris and hit another driver, you’ll almost certainly be assigned the fault. In these cases, the insurance company may not consider the road debris unless you have significant evidence that it posed an imminent danger to you.

In either case, someone will be assigned the fault, and it probably won’t be the truck driver who left the road gator behind unless you saw it happen firsthand and have that driver’s information. Because crashes involving road gators and other road debris are so difficult, it’s often wise to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and negotiate to ensure that fault is correctly distributed.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a car crash crash, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Amarillo car accident attorney from Wood Law Firm LLP, please send us an email or call (806) 304-0447.