I'm back from Gator Country

    I have just returned from a family vacation. In true 'car guy' fashion we covered just over 1850 miles in 8 days. I can report many things but, to make this interesting to more people than my immediate family and friends I will try to keep focused on some of my automotive observations and what can be learned from them.
    Our travels went from northern Indiana to New Jersey and back with a few side trips along the way. Apparently, mother nature decided that the theme to our journey was to be "road kill". We are all familiar with those pesky animals willing to commit the ultimate sacrifice to supply the motoring public with a few seconds of drama, panic or in some cases pure terror

    While, I would have preferred not to participate in the road kill festivities I did witness a porcupine suicide and a wild turkey felt the need to redesign our hood. To bad it wasn't closer to Thanksgiving.

    According to the information gathered by Road trip America Car/animal collisions are a problem across the United States. You might be surprised to learn that over a half million car/animal collisions occur every year and most of those collisions occur at night or near dusk and dawn.

   Even more common than the carnage left behind after a car/animal encounter was the numerous road gators. Who knew that the mountains of Pennsylvania was gator country? No, not the Florida Gators football team or the alligators found in the  swamps of Louisiana but, the debris left on the road side after a catastrophic tread separation occurs during a tire blowout.

    Many people think that most, if not all, road gators are failed retreads. In my own personal observations, most road gators are not  retreads failing but rather, they're what tire engineers call "tread separations." In other words, the tire's belt package along with the tread have broken free of the tire's body or "carcass."  It's easy to identify what type of failure caused a road gator because if the end shows frayed steel or fabric, it's a tread separation, not a failed retread.

    The most common causes for tread separations are under inflation or overloading. Both of these conditions cause a tire to flex more than is should which creates excessive heat that breaks down a tire's internal components. Add in the high summer road temps and conditions are ripe for a catastrophic failure.

Blowouts are not as uncommon as you may think.  Michelin reports approximately 535 fatalities and 23,000 collisions per year due to a tire blowout.

    The easiest way to remain safe from a tire blow-out is to prevent it. The proper inflation of tires, monitoring the wear, and routine inspection of tires is the best way to avoid having one.

    If you have a blowout remember, don't panic and overreact. The instinct of many could be to brake hard or steer the vehicle.  This could lead to tragic consequences. The sound of a tire blow-out can be scary but that is all. The dynamics of a vehicle will not cause it to crash, but, your actions could.

    The proper action following a blow-out is to slightly accelerate.  This will keep the vehicle momentum constant and will compensate for the pulling of the vehicle towards the flat tire.  The steering wheel should be held straight and firm.  Once the vehicle is under control and away from traffic, the driver should decelerate or brake lightly to stop the vehicle on the shoulder away from the traffic.

    A tire blow-out does not mean collision or tragedy.  It is important that in the event of a tire blow-out that drivers have the knowledge to keep themselves and others safe. Here's a link to a good, thorough article about driving through a blowout.

My name is Luke Pavlick .... I am a car guy



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