Tuesday , August 22 2017
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Large american alligator in the road
Large american alligator in the road

Watch out for damage-causing road alligators

Alligators! You know, that’s what we call those big old chunks of tire tread sometimes left behind by truckers. They lay in wait out there for you and me like snakes ready to strike. State police and highway maintenance people try their best to spot and remove these, but they can’t be everywhere all the time.

We were cruising along in our motorhome a few miles north of Ely, Nev., on U.S. 93 working our way toward Boise. An alligator showed up on the road right in front of us. It was getting dark and I didn’t see it in time to avoid running over it. When I heard that nasty bang, which sounded like it came from somewhere back there by our towed vehicle, I knew it had got us pretty good.

Expecting bad things, but hoping for the best we pulled off to check for damage. This time we were lucky. The only damage was a torn up wiring harness. Luckily we had the parts with us and were able to fix it without too much delay. It could have been a whole lot worse. Alligators can do a lot of damage and if a tire goes over one it could throw you off course and even out of control and that could end very badly.

Here are some good old safety tips you may remember from dad’s early lectures or your driver’s ed.

  • In town, look ahead a block or more. Try to spot a potential problem early, before it becomes a problem.
  • On the highway, look ahead as far as possible for the same reason.
  • Slow down at sundown.
  • If an alligator shows up without warning, slow as much as possible but keep in mind the oncoming traffic and those around and behind you.
  • Avoid the urge to jerk the wheel one way or the other to avoid it. That can make things worse.
  • If you can’t avoid running over it, try to center the critter between your front wheels to hopefully hold down the damage, grip the wheel and maintain control.
  • If you hit an alligator, stop as soon as possible in a safe place off the road and away from traffic to check for damage.

And remember . . . you’re having fun!

About Robert Sears

Robert Sears is a professional driving instructor who once owned a company that trained more than 70,000 people to drive. Today he is an author working on several non-fiction books and writing traffic safety articles for consumer and special interest publications. He is a 30-year motorhome owner who has logged several hundred thousand miles of RV driving experience.

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