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AASHTO Journal

Hot Weather Can Lead to More Roadway ‘Gators,’ ADOT Warns

With higher summer temperatures beginning to be felt in many parts of the country, the Arizona Department of Transportation is warning motorists to watch out for more "gators" in the roadway – and the agency is not talking about alligators, either.

A "gator" is the nickname for pieces of tire tread that wind up on the highway after tire blowouts; debris that creates a hazard for other drivers and their vehicles, noted Raul Amavisca, ADOT Central District engineering administrator for maintenance.

"We all need to pay attention and be prepared for debris at any time, but tire gators increase in number when the weather turns hot," he said in a statement. "Our maintenance yard bins fill up with more rubber during the summer."

For that reason, ADOT and Arizona's Department of Public Safety are reminding motorists to stay alert to tire treads or other debris that can wind up on the 6,300 miles of highway that snake throughout the Grand Canyon state, while also making regular tire pressure checks to reduce the risk of blowouts.

060118gator.jpg"Maintaining proper tire pressure to limit the chances of creating a highway gator. [Regular tire pressure checks] improve your odds, since over- or under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer blowouts. It's worth it to take the time to check your tire pressure," added DPS Captain Tony Mapp.

"We also get to see the damage a large piece of tire tread can inflict on another vehicle," he said. "These can be dangerous situations, which makes it so important to avoid distractions and keep an eye on the roadway out in front of you."

DPS is often the first line of defense against "gators," conducting traffic breaks to temporarily stop traffic so troopers can toss tire debris to the shoulder of a freeway. ADOT added that its freeway shoulder sweeping contractors also maintain weekly schedules for collecting larger debris items in advance of street sweepers finishing the cleaning job at night.

Photo: ADOT

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