Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Truck tyre debris a hazard to riders

Tyre debris

Our highways are littered with shredded tyre debris mainly from trucks often using retreaded tyres, posing a significant danger to vulnerable riders.

Ride down any highway in almost any country and you will see heaps of tyre debris, mainly from trucks.

In the USA they quaintly call it “road gators” because they look like alligators crossing the road. Both should be avoided!

Retreads are cheap and legal so long as they comply with the Australian Standards. Retreads have a lower speed rating of 140km/h, but it is still well above the legal highway limit.

Modern retreading processes are supposed to be a lot more reliable and are even used in the airline industry and military.

Tyre debrisTyre debris

So why do we see so much dangerous truck tyre debris on the road such as the above which was dragged off a busy highway?

We assume that there must be a lot of rogue truck operators and tyre companies out there that are retreading the same tyres too often and/or overusing tyres. 

RACQ Principal Technical Researcher Russell Manning says retreads are mainly used by the heavy vehicle industry due to the high cost of new tyres.

“It would be financially and environmentally irresponsible to throw away a truck tyre just because the tread has worn down due the amount of raw materials that go into its manufacture,” he says.  

The displaced tyre treads you see on the road typically come from a rear (usually a trailer) axle so they’ve done a lot of work and have been retreaded a number of times before they failed.”  

Blowout danger

To avoid hitting these “road gators”, we suggest you avoid following vehicles too closely as they can obscure the road ahead.

Also ride in the wheel tracks as they are more likely to be cleared of debris by other vehicles.

Not only is truck tyre debris a danger to riders, but so are the tyres when they blow out as this video graphically shows.

That is why I always quickly ride past a truck and would prefer to cop a speeding fine than be hit by a blown-out tyre.


  1. Some years back in the US I was passing a truck when a tire blew… caught some of the debris with my leg (made a mess of my jeans and left a nice bruise) and paintwork but I was very lucky and stayed upright. Truck driver probably never even knew it had happened until he got to where he was going.

  2. This is a common global misconception… that retreaded tires are the cause of rubber on the roads. It’s simply not true. You can view a video on our website that lays out the facts about rubber on the road:

    Or, read this massive independent study conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration to determine what caused rubber on the roads. Hint: it has nothing to do with retreads or the retreading process.

    Here’s a section of their conclusion:

    “The analysis of tire fragments and casings collected in this study has found that the proportion of tire debris from retread tires and OE tires is similar to the estimated proportion of retread and OE tires in service. Indeed, the OE versus retread proportions of the collected tire debris broadly correlated with accepted industry expectations. Additionally, there was no evidence to suggest that the proportion of tire fragments/shreds from retread tires was overrepresented in the debris items

    Examination of tire fragments and tire casings (where the OE or retread status was known) found
    that road hazard was the most common cause of tire failure, at 38 percent and 36 percent
    respectively. The analysis of tire casings found maintenance and operational issues accounted for
    32 percent of the failures while over-defection accounted for 16 percent. Analysis of tire fragments
    found that excessive heat was evident in 30 percent of the samples examined. These results suggest
    that the majority of tire debris found on the Nation’s highways is not a result of
    manufacturing/process deficiencies. Similar findings are corroborated in earlier studies of tire

  3. There is a story done by one of those csi shows where a guy was decapitated by a chunk of tyre. Myth busters then did a story on it and proved that it’s no myth.
    I have been whacked in the knee by a chunk flicked up by a vehicle in another lane and thought my leg had been cut off from the pain.

  4. Ha! I used to wonder about this, and one day I found out.
    It was in New Zealand and I was on a BMW F650, an early one.
    Following a truck, and suddenly the right side rear tyre peeled off in a huge spiral. Big chunks of rubber flew into the air and a big orange peel rolled right across the road in front of me. No time to do anything and it was more good luck that steered me between the biggest pieces. Still upright, yes, all seems ok, whew!

  5. Yes blown truck tyres are very common my regular Ipswich Motorway/Cunningham hwy runs, but I also see on a regular basis, dislodged debris from vehicles on their way to Ipswich rubbish depot in bound on the Cunningham.
    There have been deposits of old roofing iron, old roller garage door, lounge cushions, chairs, palm founds & various large items difficult to identify unless stopped.
    Ipswich motorway, various regular deposits of one work boot 😛 milk crates, hoses, ropes, tie down straps,high vis shirts & jackets (easier to see and avoid :P) …and just this year a full size step ladder in the middle lane with it’s legs fully open towards the oncoming traffic, inbound just before correction center after Wacol entry & prior to Wacol was a full exhaust system off a cruiser, chrome can & all… rider beware & yes don’t ride anywhere near trucks!

  6. Definitely agree Angus l ride the same route Saturday Cunningham highway there were rolls of carpet on the road just after Redbank plains off ramp that road is Russian roulette. I was riding home late one night ran over truck tyre on the bike just luck l didn’t skid it down the road the government should get their shit together an clean these roads up

  7. JUST PLAIN NASTY …. ANY loaded vehicle OR Trailer should be AVOIDED like the ‘CRONAVIRUS’ – and IF you are behind ANYTHING like that THEN Make Sure you Check Out an ESCAPE ROUTE if things go tits up – BEST to Get Passed these things FAST – and Inexperienced riders, PLEASE Listen to the OLDER riders – WE didn’t get this way because of our good looks you know – we do have a LOT of Experience with things like this …

    Please DON’T Learn the HARD WAY – IT can be FATAL …

  8. The bit of metal has nothing to do with a tyre but it would of probably come of a truck, it’s a container lock.

  9. Well may be the vehicle owners need be responsible for cleaning up their tyre mess , if they are aware it has happened , at the time.
    Yet the previous posts suggest it is not logical to assume retreads are the sole cause.
    Of course the propensity for road haulage is the major problem , lots of guys imagine they will be independent “truckers” and see some romance in that.However for long haul especially interstate , nothing beats rail .In the old days of QR a “K’ wagon could carry as much as 3 semis and that was just one of several pulled by the loco .
    But there are several stumbling blocks in the road of using rail viz. vested interests by big trucking companies , the money governments screw out of the trucking industry , the reluctance of governments to invest in rail infrastructure , and rail is seen , incorrectly, as inefficient .
    The governments assert trucks and what they pay helps make the roads what they are , but never want to disclose the exact amount of petrol excise spent on roads , because all of is supposed to go there , but we all suspect it does not.

Comments are closed.