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Runaway Truck Ramps: The Safety Feature You Never Think About

By Peters & Nolan, LLC on March 11, 2021

Driving to Grand Junction from any direction requires a trip through the Rocky Mountains. While these mountains are picturesque, their steep inclines can be particularly hazardous for commercial trucks. Semi-trucks are much heavier than passenger vehicles, and so require far more time to slow down. As a result, truck drivers must take downhills slowly in order to keep the truck under control.

So what happens when the brakes fail, and a big rig is rushing down a road with no hope of stopping?

The Purpose of Runaway Truck Ramps

In the 1960s, the federal government was trying to find ways to minimize runaway truck accidents, or accidents that involve a truck no longer able to brake. With early models of semi-trucks, these kinds of accidents were alarmingly common and devastating. A runaway truck that is gaining momentum down a steep mountain is difficult to stop. It may run over dozens of cars, seriously injuring and killing passengers, before finally coming to a standstill. Even in modern trucks, which have better brakes and more systems in place to prevent such accidents, runaway truck collisions are not unheard of.

This issue was, and still is, most pervasive in the mountains. Tractor-trailers often have to labor for hours, sometimes even days, on these incredibly steep roads. Such a long period of time can wear out the brakes, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Thankfully, the efforts to minimize the danger of runaway truck accidents led to runaway truck ramps.

How a Runaway Truck Ramp Works

If you have driven through the mountains at any point in your life, chances are that you have seen a runaway truck ramp, since most of the 200 ramps in the United States can be found in the mountains. These ramps are usually at midpoints on downward slopes on mountain roads. While the road may continue downward, the ramp will suddenly go up, creating a sharp and lengthy incline. At the end of the ramp, there are usually strong metal poles that will stop any vehicles from going farther.

If the brakes on a truck fail near a ramp, the driver can guide the truck on to the ramp. The sudden incline will force the truck to slow down, and eventually, come to a stop. From there, the driver can get out of the truck and call for help. While these ramps are not foolproof (and if the truck collides with a car before getting on the ramp, it’ll still cause havoc), they do minimize some of the potential damage.

What If the Truck Doesn’t Make It to the Ramp?

Commercial rigs, especially ones out of the trucker’s control, are incredibly dangerous. A collision with one could quickly and easily lead to catastrophic injuries, and even death. If you or a loved one was injured by a truck in an accident that was not your fault, then you may be eligible for compensation. To discuss your case with a top Grand Junction truck accident attorney, call Peters & Nolan, LLC, at (970) 243-4357 today.

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