You are holding your steering wheel steadily and slowly accelerating your truck down the slope of that beautiful mountainside. You are enjoying the lush greens, the splash of a cool breeze on your face and in the background, your favorite radio channel is playing songs. All seems so delightful and easy. But, is it so? A minor lapse in judgment and you start to lose control of your truck. The brakes are buckling under. After all, it is near impossible to stop a fully loaded truck from uncontrollably speeding on a slope. Your only hope during such a time is a Runaway Truck Ramp.
What are Runaway Truck Ramps?
Build usually on the right side of a steep slope in a mountainous area, the Runaway Truck Ramp is a way to stop a speeding truck safely, without endangering the traffic on the road. The ramp is wide enough to accommodate a truck or a bus and the elevated ramp made of sand or gravel absorbs the excess speed of the vehicle without causing any damage.
In extraneous situations, where the driver is not able to slow down the vehicle, these ramps come as a lifesaver. Most of these ramps are placed just before a busy intersection or ahead of a perilous turn in the road. However, depending on the landscape of the area, their location may change.
The US has over 200 truck ramps. All of them are built in the mountainous region of the western states. Building a runaway ramp is a cost-intensive affair. Hence, several factors are considered before building one, including:
- Areas where the occurrence of accidents is high due to runaway trucks
- Percentage of heavy trucks vis-à-vis the total traffic in a particular area
- Prevailing issues such as the entry point at the bend or is there a building close by
- Amount of traffic in that area on an average
- Length of the critical intersection
Different Kinds of Runaway Truck Ramps
Based on their design, a runaway ramp can be of the following kinds:
This kind of ramp is made of gravels and it helps in stopping the vehicle by making use of rolling resistance. The length of the bed is calculated taking into account factors like the grade of the gravel, the resistance provided by the gravels, and the mass and speed of the trucks, bus, etc.
Built parallel to the road, these ramps have an inclined track to stop the oncoming speeding vehicle. The main issue with such ramps is that there might be a rollback once the vehicle comes to a halt owing to the inclination.
These ramps made up of piles of sand though good at arresting speed of the vehicle may cause several problems such as overturning and vaulting due to sudden deceleration. It is also rendered ineffective in the monsoon season or when the sand is wet.
Similar to the measures used for stopping incoming jets on an aircraft carrier, these ramps use stainless steel nets to halt a speeding vehicle. Ramps of these kinds are expensive to build but can work better than gravity ramps and even on a downhill.
When to Use Runaway Truck Ramps?
Let us face it, we have all driven through hilly terrains and sped up on a slope only to realize that there is a turn up ahead. In those moments, a chill runs up your spine and you try to bring down the speed of your vehicle. Well, this can be achieved to somewhat satisfaction and safety in smaller vehicles like cars, etc.
But when it comes to a heavily loaded cargo truck or a bus, such a risk could end badly. This is where you can make use of ramps to avoid accidents and mishaps. However, once you have made use of the ramp there are other costs involved like for towing, a fee for the use of the ramp, damages that may have occurred to your truck, fines, etc.
Dos and Don’ts of Using Runaway Truck Ramps
- Enter the ramp in a straight line and try keeping your truck in the center of the ramp as much as possible
- Contact the nearest highway patrol authority once you have used the ramp
- Once you are on the ramp, it will not be possible for you to pull out your truck from there. Call a towing company to help you remove your truck from the ramp
- Do not take too much time in deciding to use the ramp once you start losing control of your vehicle
- Do not avoid using the ramp because you fear your vehicle might sustain damage due to the sand and gravel in the bed. This damage is reparable in comparison to the damages caused by not using the ramp
- Once your vehicle is stopped, do not try, and wriggle it out of the bed on your own. It might cause further damages
- Do not stay in the vehicle and wait for the authorities to show up
- Runaway ramps are meant to stop high-speed vehicles. Do not use them as a parking spot
Ways to Avoid Using Runaway Ramps
Here are some ways in which you can avoid having to use the runaway ramp ever:
- Regularly get your vehicle serviced and pay attention to the maintenance requirements
- Brake check areas for bigger vehicles are located near the summit of the mountain or at the top of sharp slopes. Before heading down the slope, it is advisable to get your vehicles checked for the equipment and their condition
- Do not overload your vehicle when you are planning to go through a hilly area. A little less weight than usual will help you in controlling the truck on a steep slide
- Follow the instruction manual on driving through hilly terrain. It is best to use the gears recommended and remain under the speed limit
While on the road it is important to care for your safety and that of others’. Follow these guidelines and you may never have to use a runaway ramp ever, but, in case if the need arises do not hesitate in using one of those ramps.