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What Is a Runaway Truck?

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Victims of Runaway Truck Accidents

The average commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. In addition to following the rules of the road, avoiding common distractions, and ensuring they are well-rested, truck drivers are responsible for taking the necessary steps to maintain control of the truck at all times. However, a range of circumstances can cause a truck driver to lose control of their rig, from malfunctioning brakes to inclement weather conditions.

If a truck driver loses control of the truck when approaching a downhill slope while traveling at a high speed, this can cause a devastating runaway truck accident. While these truck accidents are mainly preventable when truck drivers follow the rules of the road and ensure that the truck is maintained and that the cargo is properly loaded and secured, these accidents continue to cause serious, often deadly accidents across the country. If you suffered a severe injury in a runaway truck accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer.

How Common Are Runaway Trucks?

If you have ever been driving on a busy highway with a downward slope and a massive truck speeds by you, seemingly out of control, this can be a terrifying experience, particularly if the truck driver appears unable to slow down or avoid crashing into other vehicles on the road. The property damage, injuries, and fatalities a runaway truck accident can cause are catastrophic.

While these accidents are not particularly common, they often cause devastating injuries and fatalities. Statistics show approximately 4,000 runaway truck accidents in the United States yearly, representing only one percent of all truck accidents. Of those accidents, most truck drivers can exit the highway via a runaway truck ramp and avoid causing a serious truck accident. However, roughly 25 percent of truck drivers cannot navigate a runaway truck to safety and end up crashing into one or more vehicles in the vicinity.  

What Are the Most Common Causes of Runaway Trucks?

Many factors can increase the risk of a devastating runaway truck accident, most of which are preventable if the truck driver makes safety a top priority at all times, avoids distractions, and obeys the rules of the road. The following are some of the most common causes of runaway truck accidents that can cause serious injuries and fatalities:

  • Brake failure: The truck’s brakes can stop functioning correctly if worn out, the brake fluid leaks, or the braking system has mechanical failures.
  • Improper loading: When the truck’s cargo is not properly loaded or secured, it can come loose, making it difficult to maintain control of the truck. If this occurs when the truck travels at a high speed while driving down a hill, it can be particularly difficult to slow down or stop in time to avoid crashing into other vehicles on the road.
  • Poor maintenance: A commercial truck that has not been properly maintained, particularly its brakes, is more likely to be involved in a runaway truck accident.
  • Engine failure or malfunctions: In addition to poorly maintained or malfunctioning brakes, a malfunctioning engine can cause a truck to lose control. For example, diesel engine runaways are rare when the engine starts to consume its oil or other combustible materials, causing the engine to rev uncontrollably.

How Effective Are Runaway Truck Ramps?

If you have ever been driving on a particularly hilly portion of a highway and wondered what the off-ramp that seems to stop at a dead end is for, these are runaway truck ramps. These seemingly odd ramps are strategically placed in areas with an increased risk of runaway trucks, particularly in areas with steep slopes that can make it difficult for truck drivers to slow down or maintain control of their trucks. Most runaway truck ramps have an uphill slope, which uses gravity to help slow the truck down. In addition, the following design elements help runaway trucks slow down:

  • Arrestor bed: This gravel-filled ramp is adjacent to the road. It uses rolling resistance to help the truck slow down and come to a complete stop.
  • Gravity escape ramp: This is a long-inclined path parallel to the road. It requires a significant length, making it difficult for the truck driver to maintain control. In some cases, the truck can roll backward after the vehicle stops.
  • Sandpile escape ramp: These are made of loosely piled sand. However, there are common problems associated with this type of ramp. For example, the design causes a sudden, forceful deceleration. In addition, extreme weather conditions can cause the sand to freeze, and trucks can overturn after contacting the sand pile forcefully.
  • Mechanical arrestor escape ramp: This system of stainless-steel nets covers the paved ramp. When engaged, they are meant to slow down a runaway truck. While expensive, they save expensive real estate in populated areas and prevent costly truck accidents that involve extensive property damage, severe injuries, and fatalities.

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Victims of Runaway Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one suffered a devastating injury in a runaway truck accident, do not hesitate to contact our Cincinnati truck accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office. We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for causing the accident. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with the claims process, protect your legal rights, and pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 513-488-1135 or contact us online. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.