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Road Safety: Runaway Truck Ramps

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If you’ve ever been driving through the mountains, you’ve probably seen runaway truck ramps on the side of the road – even if you didn’t know what they were.

Runaway truck ramps are large, steep dirt or gravel inclines on the side of the highway in mountainous or extra hilly terrains. Many of them have built-in speed bumps with deep grooves in the ground, and their purpose is to slow down trucks that lose control of their speed.

Semi-trucks are not easy to drive; in fact, you have to have a special license to operate one. They are heavy, making them difficult to accelerate and decelerate. When you’re driving on slopes and inclines, braking isn’t always as easy as pressing the pedal.

If you’re driving a semi-truck through the mountains, hitting a downward slope can be terrifying. As the weight of the truck on the slope increases the truck’s speed, the truck’s momentum makes it even more difficult to brake. Without the runaway ramp, if a truck loses control at a high speed, it could plow into the cars in front of it or find itself going off-road (especially not good in the mountains).

If you’ve never seen these runaway ramps in action, it takes about six seconds for a truck to come to a complete stop, depending on its speed. The gravel or dirt terrain, speed bumps, and steep incline help slow the truck as quickly as possible. But these ramps are not randomly placed. They’re strategically found at the bottom of long, straight declines – the type of terrain on which a truck is most likely to lose control.

So what do you do when you get to the stop of the runaway truck ramp? Well, you’ll probably want to start by changing your pants. Then, you’ll have to call a tow truck – there’s no backing out of this one.

Source: Car and Driver, Transwest