If you’ve ever driven on a particularly steep road, you may have seen an emergency exit labeled “runaway truck ramp.” What you may not realize is that these ramps are used thousands of times each year to protect both drivers and truckers from potentially deadly accidents. But what exactly is a runaway truck? Let’s find out.
What is a Runaway Truck?
Trucks are huge and heavy, meaning they generate momentum much faster than other vehicles. That means truck drivers need to approach the top of an incline at a very low speed and then quickly shift into low gear to stay near that speed. A truck driver moving too fast when they get over the hill is almost certain to lose control when they go down the other side.
If a truck driver is not careful in how they approach a high-grade incline, two things could happen. First, the truck could quickly gather momentum from the slope and get to unsafe speeds; this is especially hazardous on winding roads. Second, the momentum prevents the driver from braking because the brake pads lack the mechanical strength to stop the vehicle. If the driver brakes too hard while trying to regain control, they could even jacknife causing their trailer to swing across multiple lanes.
How Often Does it Happen?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are about 4,000 runaway truck incidents in America each year, accounting for about 1-in-100 truck crashes. Of those, about 25% cause catastrophic for fatal injuries.
While runaway truck crashes aren’t as common as they once were, it’s crucial that truck drivers remember their training when approaching a high-grade slope. At the same time, other drivers should remain extra vigilant whenever they see a truck coming down a steep hill.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or wrongful death in a trucking accident, we are here for you. To discuss your crash with an experienced Kansas City truck accident attorney from Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, send us an email or call (816) 542-5999 for a free case consultation.