Losing your ability to control your speed while descending a steep mountain road isn’t on any trucker’s wish list. However, if you ever found yourself in that situation, a well placed runaway truck ramp would likely be at the top of your list. These lifesavers are designed to bring the runaway truck or other motor vehicle to a safe stop. Although the need for the ramps is on the decrease because of improved braking technology, driving down a steep mountain grade in a 40 ton semi truck does put the braking system to the test. And sometimes it fails.
How Runaway Truck Ramps Work
Runaway truck ramps use either pure friction to dissipate the truck’s speed, a combination of friction and an uphill grade, or a system of steel nets or cables. A bed of gravel or sand is typically used to create friction.
Each of these different methods have their merits. For example, although you can’t beat the simplicity of using an uphill grade, they aren’t always available where you need them. The next best alternative is a level ramp with gravel/sand (or a mechanical-arrestor system) with sufficient length to bring the truck to a stop. When the terrain only allows a downhill ramp, mechanical-arrestor systems with steel nets or cables will do the job. The mechanical-arrestor’s short length reduces construction costs and environmental impact.
When to Use Runaway Truck Ramps
When your brakes aren’t working, use the ramp. This isn’t a time for other considerations such as riding out the hill, or worrying about the ramp damaging your truck. It’s an emergency, and decisive action will save your life and possibly the lives of others. If you could safely ride out the hill, the ramp probably wouldn’t be there. In addition, the damage to your truck is nothing compared to going off the road or slamming into other vehicles. When entering, line up your tractor and trailer with the ramp while keeping to its center.
With proper truck maintenance, careful driving, and careful planning of your descent beforehand, the need for a runaway truck ramp may never come up. Don’t forget to take advantage of brake-check turnouts whenever you see them.
A runaway truck ramp is something you hope you never have to use, but is certainly appreciated when needed. The same can be said of commercial or owner operator truck insurance in Tennessee. If you have insurance questions, feel free to contact us.