While we don’t typically have alligators in California (unless someone releases a pet*), we do have “road gators.”

What is a road gator? 

A road gator is not an animal at all but a slang term for what is on the road after a tire blow out. Most often a road gator is the blown tire of semi truck.

Why are they called road gators? 

With the ridged surface and convex shape, blown out tires can look like an alligator lying on the road. The name “road gator” originates in the southeastern United States in areas such as Alabama, Florida and Louisiana where real alligators on the road can be more common that drivers would like.

4 reasons for big truck tire blow-outs

Just as the name implies, an 18 wheeler has, you guessed it, 18 wheels, and there are a number reasons why any one of these tires may blow. The most common reasons are:

  1. The tire may be under-inflated
  2. The tire is a retreads, retreads are more likely to blow out
  3. The company, driver or mechanic did not maintain the tires
  4. The tire was defective and was part of a recall but didn’t get sent back

If you see a road gator up ahead, gradually slow down, if it is safe veer around it. Use the road’s shoulder if you have to and if you can do so while still maintaining control of the car. Driving over a road gator can cause damage to your car so avoid running over tire pieces whenever possible.

* It is illegal to own an alligator in California.