If you’ve driven through the steeper sections of America’s highways, you may have seen the road split into a third lane that turns into a steep, unclimbable slope. This is called a runaway truck ramp. True to the name, they’re used when a truck driver loses control of their vehicle and risks endangering everyone on the road.
But what exactly causes a runaway truck, and what are these ramps used for? Let’s take a closer look.
Because full-load trucks are heavier, they have more momentum. When a truck is going downhill, it tends to gain speed rapidly. To counteract this, trained truck drivers shift into low gear, creating more resistance so they can control that speed increase.
The problem is if the truck is going too fast when it starts going downhill. When that happens, it will only get faster, quickly reaching unsafe speeds. This is especially difficult on hills because the truck needs more power to get to the top, but must quickly slow down before they start down the other side.
Faced with a truck that’s moving too fast, a truck driver may try to hit the brakes. But once the vehicle gains enough momentum, the brakes will stop responding. Not only that, but if the truck driver panics and slams the brakes, the truck may slow down, but their trailer will continue moving forward, causing the truck to “jackknife” and potentially rollover.
Runaway truck crashes tend to cause catastrophic damage because they involve a speeding truck and they have the potential to swipe at multiple vehicles.
Runaway trucks are a problem, and ramps are the solution. Many steep roads across the U.S. have a special ramp that is meant to reduce the truck’s momentum and bring the vehicle to a halt as quickly as possible.
While there are a few different kinds of runaway truck ramps, the most common is an extremely steep pile of sand or gravel. These create a lot of friction, which slow the vehicle down, and they’re steep enough that the truck isn’t at risk of climbing the ramp and moving forward.
While runaway truck accidents are rare, it’s critical that all drivers be aware of this hazard and remain vigilant of nearby trucks, especially when traveling downhill. ,
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a truck crash, you might have a case. To discuss your case with an experienced Maryland truck accident attorney from Portner & Shure, P.A., don’t hesitate to call (855) 954-4141 or send us an email.