What is a Runaway Truck Ramp and How Important is It?

What is a runaway truck ramp? You can describe it as a ‘sand trap’ where trucks sometimes need to drive into. Confusing? Not really.

When a heavy-duty vehicle goes down a mountain or climbs down a slope pretty fast, it cannot completely rely on its brake to stop. The braking system is not strong enough to support in such situations. In fact, this vehicle type will smoke the brake if the driver tries to stop when going too fast down a slope. A runaway truck ramp is a savior in an emergency like this.

What is a Runaway Truck Ramp?

This is a traffic device that helps heavy-duty vehicles and loaded rigs with braking problems to have a safety stop. This ramp is a gravel- or sand-filled lane, which is large enough for a bus or truck and connected to the downhill section of the main road or on steep grades in mountainous areas.

When you cannot control the vehicle on descent and run it into the ramp, the vehicle slows down gradually. How does this happen? Well, the ramp absorbs the vehicle’s speed by dissipating its kinetic energy in a gentle way. Its ascending framework further helps it with slowing down the heavy vehicles.

runaway truck ramps
A ramp slows down heavy vehicles. (Photo Source: adamalbrecht)

Such ramps are absolutely necessary because, like any other equipment, a vehicle’s engine and braking mechanism can fail. Also, drivers are only human beings, so they can miss the road signage. Many inexperienced drivers also don’t know how to drive a heavy vehicle down a hilly road. They often shift up when descending a slope and cannot go back in gear.

Each one of these situations can lead to a violent crash but thanks to the ramps, the drivers can stop the vehicle safely. They are a lifesaver, not only for truckers but plenty of other people on the road.

The placement of these turnouts is critical because it determines their efficiency. You will see them just before an intersection in a busy road or a critical turn or change in the curve of a road. You may also find them before the stoppage of vehicles. However, their location can vary depending on the topography of an area or country.

A runaway truck ramp is an expensive construction, especially when it is built in a mountainous area. The cost can be something near to or cross one million dollars.

Types of Runaway Truck Ramps

You know what is a runaway truck ramp and how important it is. Now, here’s a quick discussion on how many types of ramps are there.

A gravity escape ramp is an upwardly inclined track located parallel to the main road. Such a turnaround can cause the vehicle to rollback after it halts.


Loosely amassed sand into a small space builds the sandpile escape ramp. The problem is vehicles can overturn due to the loose nature of the sand. Also, sand succumbs to weather conditions such as rain, moisture, and snow.

truck ramp
This ramp succumbs to weather elements. (Photo Source: wikiwand)

Another type is the arrester bed that uses gravel to halt vehicles by means of rolling resistance. They are located on the side of the main road. The last type is a mechanical-arrestor escape ramp that is built with stainless-steel nets. These are expensive but more effective than other types.