ADOT warns drivers to beware of tread debris known as highway “gators”

ADOT crews remove roadside shoulder debris from Phoenix-area freeways throughout the year. (Submitted photo)

With summer approaching, Arizona highway drivers should stay alert for “gators” on the highway and beware of tread debris.

Gator is a nickname given to tire treads that wind up on highways after blowouts, creating a risk for other drivers and their vehicles, according to a press release by the Arizona Department of Transportation and state

Department of Public Safety reminding motorists to beware of tire treads or other debris on highways.

As temperatures rise, drivers also should regularly check their vehicles’ tire pressure to reduce the risk of blowouts, the release said.

Whether DPS troopers toss tire gators to the shoulder or ADOT maintenance crews respond after getting a call, it’s impossible to remove all debris from more than 6,300 miles of state highways.

DPS is often the first defense against gators, conducting traffic breaks to temporarily stop traffic so troopers can toss tire debris to the shoulder of a freeway.

“We also get to see the damage a large piece of tire tread can inflict on another vehicle,” said DPS Captain Tony Mapp in a prepared statement. “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.”

“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,” Raul Amavisca, ADOT Central District engineering administrator for maintenance, said in a prepared statement. “Our maintenance yard bins fill up with more rubber during the summer.”

ADOT crews remove roadside shoulder debris along busy Phoenix-area freeways throughout the year; the agency’s freeway shoulder sweeping contractors also maintain weekly schedules for collecting larger debris before street sweepers finish cleaning at night, the release noted.

“You’re improving your odds, since over- or under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer blowouts,” said Mr. Mapp of maintaining proper tire pressure to limit chances of creating a highway gator. “It’s worth it to take the time to check your tire pressure.”

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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