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Hot weather can mean more tire “gators” on highways

Drivers should pay attention, be alert to possible tread debris
May 29, 2018

PHOENIX – The word likely makes you think of a state like Florida, but Arizona highway drivers should stay alert for “gators” on the highway, especially with summer upon us.TireRubberPickedUpADOTphoto2018

Gator is the nickname given to tire treads that wind up on highways after blowouts, creating a risk for other drivers and their vehicles.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and state Department of Public Safety are reminding motorists to stay alert to tire treads or other debris that can wind up on highways. Drivers also should regularly check their vehicles’ tire pressure to reduce the risk of blowouts.

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

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

DPS is often are 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.

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

I-17TireDebrisRemovedFromShoulderBlackCanyonCityAreaMay2218aADOT crews do spot pickups of 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 items in advance of street sweepers finishing the cleaning job at night.

Maintaining proper tire pressure to limit the chances of creating a highway gator.

“You’re improving your odds, since over- or under-inflated tires are more likely to suffer blowouts,” Captain Mapp said. “It’s worth it to take the time to check your tire pressure.”

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Civil Rights

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws and authorities, ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el Título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964, la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés) y otras normas y leyes antidiscriminatorias, el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT) no discrimina por motivos de raza, color, origen nacional, sexo, edad o discapacidad. Las personas que requieran asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles de ADOT en civilrightsoffice@azdot.gov. Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más antes posible para asegurar que el Estado tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.