VIDEO: Camera Catches 18-Wheeler Using Runaway Ramp

SnowBrains |

 

You know those long, steep, runway-strip-looking pieces of road that you always drive past on mountainous highways with signs before them that read, “runaway ramp?” Seldom do you ever see them actually used, and you often wonder if they are really a necessary installment to the state highway system.

Well, here, a runaway ramp in Colorado really proved it’s necessity when a semi was shown charging towards it at roughly 80 mph when it appeared that its brakes had given out. The trucks wheels were smoking and it was heading right towards the ramp with its right blinker on, gaining more and more speed as it neared it.

Thankfully, the semi made it onto the ramp smoothly and it had so much inertia that it nearly reached the top of it. The driver of the 18-wheeler demonstrated remarkable handling skills and a cool head as he bulleted towards the ramp at full speed. These runaway ramps on the sides of highways were built for a reason.


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170 thoughts on “VIDEO: Camera Catches 18-Wheeler Using Runaway Ramp

        1. I was driving a station wagon with Boy Scouts and entered a released gate by men working with us in allowing us to go down into the river area right next to the Boulder Dam near Las Vegas. We had a load of canoes that they scouts were going to us down the river for about 12 miles. I had gotton a new set of brakes on the station wagon, that did something, that I cannot remember. All I know the is as we snaked snaked down back and forth on the small two lane road into the area next to the river, as we approached each curve, the new method of brakes took longer and longer to slow down so I could make the curve. About half way I knew that brakes for some reason were getting hot and not going to be able to stop, I finally got it to stop, and necessity is the mother of invention. As I had it completely stopped, I put it in reverse and ever so slowly let it go a ways and then applied slowly the gas so that the reverse gear worked to slow us to nearly a stop. This I did several times until we got to the river. This saved us from losing control and all being killed down that steep walled road. When I got back to town I took the car back and put normal brakes on. I was the only car that had brakes become so hot they would not work. We were protected from above that day.

      1. RESISTANCE, people… RESISTANCE of the small pebble sized or a bit larger gravel and the tires/wheel become buried in the gravel and it stops the truck. Not gravity. It’s you running in mud at full speed, you might say. We’ve all riden a bicycle and through mud, right? RESISTANCE STOPS THE TRUCK.

    1. The ramp surface is actually just crushed rock. Between that and gravity (caused by the steep slope), it brings the truck to a stop.

        1. The effect of gravity on the truck is weaker at high speed and as the sand & gravel and steep incline slows the truck down then the effect of gravity is restored.

        2. Huh? Are you seriously trying to say that the truck would slow down just as much if the ramp was on a level surface?

          I get it that the force of gravity on a stationary object is the same whether that object is on a level surface or on an incline. However a moving object WILL slow down more rapidly if it has to fight gravity going to the incline rather than continuing across a level surface. Maybe “gravity” is not the exact term for this situation, but if not, it’s close enough for us laymen. If it’s not the correct term, please enlighten us.

          1. On the eastern down hill
            Side of I70 there is a runaway ramp that has very little slope to it which is the one that the trucker missed before plowing into
            24 cars and killing quite
            A few people last year .

          2. It’s pretty simple! Try pushing a car on black top – moves easily then push same car on loose gravel. Not so easy as it sinks some & more friction. Not rocket science!!

          3. its called “Momentum” where the weight x the speed determines the real force. when trucks go 100 mph the brakes get burned up in smoke as you see in video. the incline and sand on the escape ramp absorb the momentum so the truck can slow down to stop without brakes. if you look at comparision – car = 2000 pounds x 100 mph = 200,000 pound force and truck = 18000 pounds x 100 mph = 1,800,000 pound force. that is almost 2 million pounds of force. imagine that if there is no escape ramp, truck will smash into everything.

          4. Too many people commenting on this that have NO EXPERIENCE with trucks hills mountains brakes and safe operation of an 18 wheeler. Too many steering wheel holders attempting to operate trucks out there almost anyone can hold a wheel and let the truck shift itself takes ALOT more than that to operate a truck safely. That douchebag that killed those people by not using the runaway ramp needs to face murder charges plain and simple.

          5. The weight of the load in the trailer that pushes the truck faster and faster as it goes down the hill acts as a brake pulling backwards on the forward trust when it starts up hill. The crusted stone and soft sand loaded in those ramps make it harder for the rig to move forward added to the load making it hard to go up hill and the engine torque being reduced by not trying to continue a forward motion all combine to make the ramps a safety net for trucks and it requires some heavy duty assistance to bring a rig out of one of those run away ramps.
            Medically retired trucker here. In over a million miles driven NO never needed one of those ramps.

        3. Actually they work great, having used one, I can say that they are amazing if you can reach them in time and some stupid tourist moron is not parked at the bottom blocking access! Gravity has nothing to do with it as it is “grade” steepness thereof! Combined with surface resistance, loose sand, unpacked it will bring the truck to a complete halt in just about all cases.

          1. “Gravity has nothing to do with it”? Gravity has everything to do with it. Gravity is the most powerful force until electromagnetic, then nuclear. Up the incline means it is fighting gravity, which is far more powerful than the sand. Put that much momentum on level sand and see how far it moves.

        4. You absolutely correct with your statement about the force gravity exerts on the truck.
          The ramp affects momentum by slowing and eventually eliminating any forward momentum.

        5. Are you saying a vehicle wouldn’t slow down going uphill quicker than on a flat surface? Try driving up a steel hill with about 6 inches of crushed rock without putting your foot on the gas or without using cruise control and see if the vehicle doesn’t slow down quicker than on a flat hard paved road.

      1. The convo that ensued after the first mention of gravity is stunningly horrific. I’m desperately hoping a bunch of 5th graders jumped in, because if certain. Ones of you can drive AND vote, I’m scared shitless.

        1. The ramp also has a lot of sand in it, varying in levels of how deep it goes. So with the incline and the sand that’s how it stops the truck in simple terms lol or at least that’s what a trucker friend of mine told me.

      2. you sir are an idiot and wrong.
        Tell me then… whats makes you roll down hill idiot..LMFAO.. Wind..? go back to school stay out of my field.. start with MATH.

      1. hate to burst your bubble, but the hill is not the most important factor, there are truck run away ramps that are level, its is the gravel in these runways that slow and stop the truck and it takes a large wrecker to get them out, and than the driver will most likely get a fine for using the runway, lookout pass on I-90 has 2 ramps and both are a little down hill and still work, because of the gravel, and us 95 in Idaho on white bird has some that are down hill, so as you can see its the gravel not the hill or gravity .

        1. Yes, the gravel is the majority of the reason the truck stops, but gravity is still a significant part. The truck will stop much sooner on an upward inclined plane than on a flat one.

          The energy needed to raise the truck up the incline is energy taken away from the forward motion of the truck. Also, the upward incline causes the truck to press harder into the gravel, stopping it sooner.

          1. I think it would cool to have truck and car rallies around this type of crazy vehicle event. I’m sure there are enough grease monkeys and truckers who would get a rush. I’m just saying

        2. Hate to burst your bubble but she already mentioned the gravel (although he called it “dirt”) and never even suggested that the hill was the main factor.

          1. There is a mild downhill one on I70 eastbound heading into Denver. It still works because it is long and gravel filled.

    2. The ramps are usually made of gravel, or something else that’s designed to be difficult for inertia to maintain, combined with the sharp incline, the truck will lose its momentum and safely stop.

    3. They gradually sink into something that is very granular (kinda) akin too a less exaggerated ball pit.
      It basically slows you down to a snail’s pace or a stop, and usually intentionally then tips you on your side (so you’re not going anywhere.)
      The wheels aren’t really aren’t rotating anymore or making any rolling contact with the surface below.

        1. no, it is gravel, much like pea gravel…. sand and moisture will freeze into a hard surface rendering the run a way ramp useless.
          Grades that have a run a way ramp are obviously dangerous and those with 2 such ramps are extremely dangerous…

    4. What you see in the vid. The linings are the smoke you see floating across the highway. And by the time it looks like that, what’s left beside the tire is as slick as oil. You had might as well have the truck on ice except that it’s easier to hold in a line.

    5. You crank the wheel to the left and bail. If the truck rolls back it will jacknife and stop and you don’t get run over by it.
      BTW I have seen people having naps, family picnics etc., at the bottom of these runaway lanes.

    6. There is a very deep base of pea gravel, slows the truck quickly. As it slows it sinks deeper slowing it to a stop. It would be similar to a boat stopping in water, as it slows, it settles into the water..

      1. I guess he has to work nonstop to get out if he has no breaks. Seriously, if you worry about grammar, punctuation, and spelling in online comment threads, you’ll go crazy. But it really is too bad that people don’t take a little more time to make sure the stuff they write is correct given that it will be visible to everyone for eternity.

    1. The ramps are filled with Sand, Gravel and Rock of various sizes… Basically the force pushing them up the hill then they ‘settle down’ into the Sand/Gravel… and ‘get stuck’. Much like you would get stuck driving out onto a ‘sandy beach’. It then requires assistance for them to be pulled out. Their tires are sunk down in the sand/gravel… and they can’t drive out alone… in most cases.

    2. the brakes cant stop 80,000 lbs going down hill at 80, but when the inertia is gone when he stopped rolling they should be able to keep it stopped. Also, he can shut off the engine and leave it in gear which will do a lot to keep it stopped as well.

    3. The gravel in the ramp is so deep that the truck and the trailer sink into the gravel, they literally sink into it and are held in place from rolling back down. Another crew has to come out and help get them out of the gravel. Saw one once that had been used minutes before I got there. It was all very interesting. You could clearly see the truck and trailer sunk clear into the gravel and held there.

    4. The sand on the runaway truck ramp is very deep and the truck sinks into the sand/dirt on the ramp so it is unable to roll backwards once it is stuck on the ramp. They have to be towed out of the ramp and it is pretty pricey to do so.

      1. Yup. Truckers can be looking at a tow bill anywhere from $1500 to $5000. I work for a big wrecker service so I’m well aware. 🙂

      1. My hat goes off to ALL TRUCK DRIVERS WHO (EVER HAVE TO USE THIS METHOD) OF SLOWING DOWN AND KEEPING EVERYONE SAFE!!! I’D SAY AMAZING DRIVING SKILLS AND LITTLE TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO, THANK GOD IT TURNED OUT LIKE IT DID.. PRICEY OR NOT TO RETRIEVE THE TRUCK. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE ALIVE BECAUSE OF THE QUICK THINKING AND HE DEFINITELY DOES DESERVE A VACATION AFTER THAT RIDE #GOODDRIVING..

        1. NOT amazing driving skills. Shouldn’t have been in that situation if his brakes were properly adjusted, geared lower and proper braking. I’m a retired trucker. Thankfully he made it to the runaway ramp.

          1. Larry,
            Finally some truth in this matter. A lot of comments from folks who are trying to guess and just do not understand.. Run away lanes are engineered for a specific location some steep and hard and some pea gravel pits again engineered.
            At the top of long steep grades heavy trucks are required to stop and do a walk around brake checks, adjust brakes if necessary., and use an appropriate gear to descend the grade. It needs to be noted that there is always a chance of a mechanical issue. Again a reason for the brake checks.
            It is a good thing that this driver managed to use the runaway lane and hopefully was able to hold the grade.Not a given for certain..
            The industry is in a bad state for drivers, not enough to fill the jobs.
            Experience truly only comes with miles and understanding of the capabilities of the unit and mainly the driver. Stuff happens quickly and experience and sometimes good luck plays a part .

            Man this is not an easy subject to put into a few words.
            Retired 2.,800,000 miles.and proud of it.

          2. don’t give a Crap if you own a trucking company like us for over 75 year’s.. you are not a Future predictor .. are you some kind of God who would be able to tell me when something is about to break on our truck’s.. I highly doubt it.. I’ve had brand new tires blow 1 day after replacing.. had brand new air lines burst from factory screw up’s.. when you become GOD. you can eliminate all the safety ramps across the globe because we will all have your predictions to keep us safe… your and idiot

      2. I believe that runways for airplanes have sand at the end of them to help stop a plane, or if distance of the runway is ‘sketchy’ utilize Sand to help shorten how many feet are necessary to land safely

        1. Actually.. no we don’t.. just a few airport’s… Commercial Pilot.
          but stick to your day job.. I am sure cashier’s have a lot of knowledge.

      3. Gravity is the same, gravity is a constant factor… but inertia is dissapated by the ports gravel and by the vehicle over coming gravity. To stop the vehicle, the elimination of inertia is the goal. I know what I am talking about.

    5. The ramps have about 18 inch’s of loose gravel, the truck hits them and buries itself axle deep until it comes to a stop. Then it takes a commercial tow truck to get it off of the ramp, and they re-blade the gravel into place for the next time it is needed.

    6. As he came to a stop,he would grab reverse gear and just idle the truck back slowly using the transmission to hold the truck ….
      But …..Run away ramps are usually cut out and then filled with Loose,screened gravel,that gets deeper the further ya go up so by the time he stopped ,he was probably sunk into the gravel a foot…..

    7. Well, once you stop moving it’s safe to actually shut the engine off, because you no longer have to worry about steering, etc. You just can’t shut down for obvious reasons when you’re barreling along at 80mph+… the parking brake may work, or simply shutting down if you do roll back at all eventually you’ll come to a stop at the bottom… Just guessing.

    8. Those ramps are about 3 feet of loose sand. When he hits the ramp, the truck digs into that sand. By the time he gets to a stop, his tru k is dug into the sand at least up to the axle. Being stuck that deep keeps him from rolling back down the ramp. Hope that helps.

      1. When going down hill at excessive speed, it is impossible to put the transmission into a lower gear. The transmission will not allow you to go into a lower gear because the lower gears are nor capable of synchronizing. Normally you using a manual transmission and quite a few truckers can change gears without using the clutch. I did so for many years. When the motor RPM match the speed of the transmission, you can shift into the gear, Going down hill the transmission gears will speed up as your speed increases, thereby making it impossible to shift, even with a clutch. Imagine a fan blade going around, and when you rotate at the same speed as the fan blade, you can go through the space between the blades. If you can’t rotate fast enough, as the lower gears will be going, you can’t shift. hope this helps.

        1. Sometimes you can manage. Give it a quick shot of gas to try to sync it, clutch hard and slam the stick in. Of course, if you’re stuck out, you’re in neutral.

          1. Modern trucks use two clutches, one manual and the other automatic
            Normal shifting works with the automatic clutch so you just shift gears after letting off the gas… it automatically syncs the gears. The manual clutch is only for shifting into first gear from a stop

        2. Fully loaded the only gears that will hold you are the low range. If you lose your brakes in the high range, if you manage to shift into the next gear down , you will blow your engine. RPMs get too high. At that speed, not enough compression in the engine to slow down the truck. That’s why I always check the adjustment on my brakes. One break out of adjustment, too tight , it heats up and catches on fire.

      2. you don’t put your parking brakes on as when the brake drums cool down , it can and most likely will break all the brake drums, you can put in lower gear and shut off motor but the truck wont move anyways as the Gravel will hold it, it will take a good size tow truck to get it out.

    9. I believe, usually the material on the ramp is soft enough to hold the truck once it is stopped. The wheels will actually be buried in the material. It can be a hard job for a wrecker to pull the truck out. One I know of in our area, actually has a wrecker access part way up, because they would be stuck if they got onto the ramp itself. We don’t have many around Vermont because the hills aren’t that high. The one I have seen is on a steep hill with a busy intersection at the bottom that has seen some close calls, like a log truck with no brakes. I have never seen tracks more than half way up that ramp. The ramps are designed for a maximum speed and load, so the one in the video must have been close to the maximum to get so close to the top.

      1. Can you run faster up a hill or DOWN a hill???? Going down the hill to fast is what got you in trouble to start with. On 99 percent of the ramps when you hit them you are going up the hill. And you are in very deep sand .

  1. Man! I don’t care if it is not new! I’ve never seen it before and have always wondered. I hear it costs a small fortune to get a truck out of there.

      1. And that’s not including the repair bill for damage to the truck and the trailer. This is a last resort safety measure to prevent loss of life of the driver and traveling public. You don’t use it willingly.

    1. It sinks enough that they are hard to get out. It’s generally gravel; you’re not much worried about the truck at that moment.

      1. I was a truck driver in Colorado for years. I’ve driven that stretch hundreds of times and know that if a trucker needs to use his brakes in the mountains he is not a trucker.In his favor, he didn’t murder people like that puke did by the Mills last year.

  2. The ramp is made from loose gravel about 3 feet deep. It is designed so the runaway truck will sink into the gravel and stop.

  3. @tew

    The runaway ramps are usually shallow pits that have a depth of a few inches to a foot filled with gravel. So when the truck hits them, they actually sink into the gravel and drive up the ramp. As they sink into the gravel it maintains the truck where it stops and doesnt roll back.

    1. There are a number of reasons why the truck’s brakes may have failed (overloaded, worn brakes, etc) that have nothing to do with driver skill.

      Driving a regular car/light truck in the mountains requires almost no care or planning; don’t think that you’re an expert just because you’ve never overheated your brakes.

      1. There are tons of drivers of passenger vehicles and big trucks who have no idea what they’re in for when they come to that hill. Regardless of the signs, they just don’t get it. Trust me; that hill is about a hundred yards from my home.

      2. This is not correct. 100% of brake failures are driver error, as they are required to check their brakes prior to going down the grade. They are also trained to shift into a low gear prior to entering the hill, in order to avoid this exact problem.

      1. That driver was guilty of a number of infractions, he will most likely be fired from his job. Most likely a rookie, fresh from school! Throw him to the wolves, sink or swim, as they say.First, his brakes were probably Way out, second, and most importantly, Never come off a hill in a taller gear than you could crest that same hill going the other way loaded,Never!!! Since this driver had probably have never seen this hill before( if it were me, and I’ve been in this position many times) pull over, adjust your brakes, and get on the cb, and ask for local drivers to come back with local advice about that particular hill. That only takes a few moments, and local drivers are very happy to provide out of state drivers the info they so greatly desire! I drove otr for many years and have seen all these hill forward and back. But there was always the (very 1st time), must have huge respect for these mountains.

    2. Mark, you may be correct that he doesn’t know how to drive the mountains..(..like the flatbed headed east that killed those people..)
      But, semi truck & trailer brakes these days are “self adjusting”, and have been for the last 14-16 years..
      I’ve been driving since 1988, before there was even a “CDL” and have about 3.6 million miles, NO “at fault” accidents… P.S. while you were writing this comment, I left Aurora, CO, headed to L.A…
      …across I-70, & those mountains..
      just as I have for maybe 100 times..

  4. Generally the problem is overheated brakes. When a brake gets overheated it loses it’s grip, the more it loses it’s grip the more friction on the brake causing more heat further reducing the grip. Big trucks have air brakes, if the trucks brake loses air pressure the brakes automatically come on, but if you’re in too high of a gear they’ll overheat. The gravel on the ramp is about a foot and a half deep, so the truck sinks into it and gets stuck. It actually takes a tow truck to pull them off the ramp.

  5. Here is one description of what the runaway truck ramps are made of. I am thankful we never had to use them. Always dreaded driving the passes in our semi, thankful these ramps were there, but always happy to be on the other side.

  6. I know someone that lost his brakes , coming off a mountain and the trucker said on CB, “Everyone get out of my way, I have no brakes” This person I know said ” Snug up against me and I will take you down this mountain.” The other guy was afraid he would push my friend off the mountain.
    My friend said ” No , you just snug up and I will get you down.”,
    There was no runaway in this particular spot.
    My friend took that trucker to the bottom, and that trucker told him, ” I thought I was not going to make it.
    He , just thanked and thanked my friend for what he done.

  7. Once the TESLA Electric Semis are out (starting end of this year) they will never have this problem as they use regenerative braking which actually charges the batteries and barely even uses the old school brakes. The cars use the system and it’s amazing!!

  8. Once the TESLA Electric Semis are out (starting end of this year) they will never have this problem as they use regenerative braking which actually charges the batteries and barely even uses the old school brakes. The cars use the system and it’s amazing!!

  9. If you have never seen how turnout ramps work you may not understand them. Have you ever driven into water or loose sand at speed? It slows you down fairly quickly. Now make the a pit 2 to 4 foot deep at least the length of a football field filled with pea gravel. Much like driving into a snow bank. It will save your life and that of others if you are lucky. One problem is that the load on the truck will want to keep going forward and slide up the trailer. It will break binder chains, floor separators or just about any restraining device if you stop too fast. Then the load crushes the truck cab and driver. If you ever see a truck carrying spools of wire, metal beams, or logs going down hill fast. GET OUT FROM IN FRONT OF IT ! Either they don’t know what they are doing or they have a serious problem. The general rule is that you go down a hill in the same gear it took to climb it to the top.

  10. When I looked at one years ago, it was made of pebbles and it makes more sense because the pebbles can move more freely than gravel. They won’t wash away like sand and aren’t sharp and jagged like gravel. When weight is set upon the pebbles, the pebbles will spread in any direction they can. Sand is not as fluid as reliably as pebbles as pebbles can’t be compacted as easily. The truck sinks down and it take away from the inertia. I believe that when a truck goes from driving downhill to uphill that rapidly that g-forces come in to the picture and that forces the truck to sink farther into the rock and sand. That causes the truck to stop even quicker and that isn’t a coincidence. The run away truck ramps need to be groomed (like with a road grader or loader) so that it is as effective.id they didn’t groom them, they wouldn’t be as effective.

  11. Hi everyone, this video was taken in 2018 on I70 in September, this was my truck while attempting to down shift I lost my gear comming down the grade, I attempted to slow the truck by a protocol called jabbing brakes the hill was much to steep and I was not able locate the gear within the RPM’s. Those ramps are on a incline for a reason and pack with pebble rocks two feet deep, once the truck enter the ramp the truck weight and the incline of the ramp help reduce the speed of my truck and the gravel was lose and designed to pile under the tires to aid in slowing it down plus once the truck came to a full stop the gravel is also designed to create a barrier behind the tires to keep the truck from rolling backwards, because once on top the truck has absolutely no parking brakes nor any type of brakes to keep it stop, if I or any other driver would had set the brakes at a full stop the brakes would have welded itself to the wheel, we are all trained to keep the brakes released once stop. I was thankful for this ramp cause less than a mile I had a sharp curve coming up that couldn’t make without have my truck flip and cross over into all lanes. My speed had reach 94MPH with 78.000Lbs. I had an angel watching over me and others that day.

    1. We’re glad you’re ok. Even hitting the safety ramp, trucks have easily flipped while slowing by sheer momentum. Be safe out there.

    2. Thank goodness you were able to make it safely to the ramp and it worked successfully for you. You saved a lot of lives!! That is so scary for everyone on the road including yourself. I can’t imagine the panic and pressure to keep control and amount of praying it took to get you there! Why is Dwight Povsha (above in comments) saying most likely you received a fine for using the ramp?? WTH?

  12. Too many people commenting on this that have NO EXPERIENCE with trucks hills mountains brakes and safe operation of an 18 wheeler. Too many steering wheel holders attempting to operate trucks out there almost anyone can hold a wheel and let the truck shift itself takes ALOT more than that to operate a truck safely. That douchebag that killed those people by not using the runaway ramp needs to face murder charges plain and simple.

    1. I agree, as I said I drove over 35y, and never used one as I kept my truck under control. I did smoke my brakes once when I came down a grade about half asleep and than I realized what was happing I garbed a gear hit the Jake and was able to slow it down and cool the brakes off before anything happened and it was my own fault, most of the time its driver fault.

  13. I drove truck for over 35y, and in most states if a driver uses a truck ramp they are fined because the DOT figures if you had to use one than you didn’t have your truck under control. they don’t take into account that sometimes brakes fail, but a lot of times it is drivers fault for going to fast down the hill, so that’s why I said he may have gotten a fine I hope not, but The DOT are A-holes and don’t understand, and I have seen a lot of drivers going way to fast down a hill and smoking there brakes and once they start to smoke your in trouble . I never had to use one , but its nice to know there around when you may need it.

      1. they don’t use rotors, they use drums. Truck brakes use air-operated actuators and cams to apply shoes.

        Friction brake purpose is to convert inertia into heat. When you drill or slot rotors, it removes material from the disks and drums, which reduces the disk and drum’s mass, thus, reducing it’s ability to absorb heat. This means that when you apply the brakes, the disks and drums rise to a higher temperature faster. Once the contact surfaces exceed a certain temperature, the disk/drum becomes plastic- it starts shedding material, and then you have no brakes.

        Slotting and drilling rotors works okay for lightweight vehicles, because the proportion of braking energy per rotor mass is substantially slower, and for much shorter duration, than heavy vehicles like trucks and trains. E = M*V*V..

        2800lb car travelling 60mph (88ft/sec) is 2800*88*88=2,1683200 ft-lbs per second, or 27864btu. 1 btu is the amount of energy required to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree f… and since there’s 8.3lbs per gallon of water, that means a 55gal drum of water weighs 440lbs… one stop of a 60mph 2800lb car would raise that 55gal drum of water from 70F to 28674/440 = 63*f +70 = 133 degrees.

        The same calculation on a 78000lb tractor trailer would take that same barrel of water from 70f to (604023000flt-lbs/sec = 776221/440 1741+70= 1811 degrees F.

        As you can see, there’s a very substantial difference in the amount of energy you’re dealing with.

        Heat from braking goes into the hubs, which are full of grease. When that grease gets hot, it ejects, and ignites, spreading to the tires and air bags. When you smell burning brakes, get out of the way.

        1. When the brakes overheat, they lose contact with the brake drums, as the heat will make the drums expand so much that the shoes will not touch them, they don’t turn into plastic as someone said, but it can cause the brake drums to break apart, that’s why once stopped you do NOT set your parking brakes , keep them released until cool other wise they will lock up and can break all the drums as they cool down and began to shrink down again to there original size , there to many people on here that has no idea of what there talking about, most I can understand, but metal turning into plastic from the heat, come on, and as far as the slotted and drilled rotors that someone suggested , and the other said they would heat up more, ? that’s why they make them with slots and drill holes is to cool them faster, works great on cars and light trucks, not sure on large trucks, but they do make disc air brakes for semi and trailers ,

          1. Dwight- Plastic is a phase state, not a material. Phase change occurs in states. Solids exist in stages of elastic, then plastic, then they liquify, then become a gas, then excite into plasma.

            Yes, as the brake drum expands, the drum distorts- not only increasing in radius, but increasing more in radius at the flange, than at the hub, because the hub acts as a heat sink. this causes the shoe’s radius (which is now no longer conformal to the expanded hub) to lose contact, it also results in the point contact pressure to become higher, and the shoe’s sweep pattern to become unstable. These factors result in ‘stripping’… the rapid loss of friction material from the shoe (or pad) due to poor contact stability.

            You are correct that stopping with brakes applied is very bad for hot drums and disks- the pads and shoes are a very effective thermal insulator, thus the contacted area retains heat while the non-contact surface cools. This results in very serious deformation stresses, work-hardening, and fracture susceptibility. This is why brake drums and disks are made of the softest, lowest-grade metallurgy to be found- it has to be able to heat cycle aggressively, without exhibiting any hardening characteristics.

            Brakes do not effectively cool when shoes or pads are applied, and they fail when heated to a state where they go from being an elastic solid, to a plastic state. When you see sparking metal, it’s plastic, and rapidly becoming liquid.

            When you have less mass to absorb heat, the temperature rise from an application becomes proportionally greater at each loss of material.

            Disk brakes are not widely used on tractor trailers because a disk brake requires the actuator to be IN the wheel’s spinning envelope. For a hydraulic caliper, on a small car, this isn’t a difficult design feat- the local heating is not particularly significant because the brake is not carrying high loads for extended periods of time, and a hydraulic caliper acting at around 1000psi can exhibit ample actuation force. A comparative air actuator requires substantially MORE surface area (at 100-150psi), and the diaphram must be FARTHER from the heat in order to prevent melting.

            Tractor trailers travelling down mountains constitute an extreme braking load, not only due to their size, but the duty-cycle required. With much less engine-braking available, those brakes are downright precious. If you’d like to know who knows what they’re talking about, discuss it with any of my colleagues at Knorr/New York Airbrake. There’s plenty of truck brakes in the Watertown and Westminster archives, but the bigger picture, is for loads that make trucks look like toys- I taught on trains, and yes, I made my students learn the math.

  14. I have driven that very route countless times with a heavy load. The best practice I have adhered to is this, as fast as you can go up a hill, is as fast as you should go down. I have smoked my brakes a time or two before. It is on rare occasion that it is an unforeseeable mechanical failure. Proper brake maintenance, a good engine (jake) brake, and proper gear usage generally keeps you out of trouble.

  15. You think this guy is a hero? He’s a moron actually, this never should have been necessary if he was doing his job right in the first place. Any trucker that has to use a runaway ramp should be ashamed of themselves! He’s not a hero for being a bad driver, he’s not a hero for endangering the lives of others! I was a trucker for 18 years, never had to use a ramp once, why, because I did my job and safety checks over and above what was required by law and knew my skill, the road and my truck inside and out. It’s absolutely pathetic that people would even consider this guy a hero 🙁

    1. That’s right, he is no hero he should of had is truck under control , he was coming down to fast and not doing his job, I drove over 35y never had a wreck or never used a ramp. this guy should not be in a truck

  16. OK, so… no brakes.

    Once the truck is stopped going UP, what stops him from rolling down it, backwards???

    Honestly curious. I live in FL, we ain’t got no mountains. We don’t even have much in the way of hills. Max FL elevation is like 325ft above sea level…

    1. The truck could possibly roll back but remember he/she was just going down a big hill which is now behind them with a pretty long lane leading up to the ramp.
      So if they had absolutely no brakes than they could just roll back and forth on each side of the ramp and the hill behind them until they came to a stop.

      1. The truck is stuck in the gravel and can not move , who ever came up with the [ back and forth you have to be kidding] the gravel holds it there and it takes a large tow truck to get it out

    2. Dwain, the driver of the truck , gave the best explanation of why the truck did not roll back down the ramp:
      the gravel was lose and designed to pile under the tires to aid in slowing it down plus once the truck came to a full stop the gravel is also designed to create a barrier behind the tires to keep the truck from rolling backwards, because once on top the truck has absolutely no parking brakes nor any type of brakes to keep it stop

  17. The sign at the tunnel exit states (not exact wording- But should get attention if read): Truckers – Steep grade Ahead! Stay in lower gear!
    Well DUH!
    Glad this driver made it safely to a stop!

  18. I’ve seen this firsthand except there was a ton of snow the driver plowed through and the ramp really did its job. Also mad skills and courage of these drivers that cross the continental divide in these big trucks.

  19. OK, now I have heard everything,from people who just like to argue about common sense things. Has anyone bothered to realize this is in the Mountains and the ramp is built on an incline for that very reason.

  20. Whew!!! You all are too much. My brain hurts and my nerves are shot just reading all these comments. I hope the guy videotaping this wasn’t the driver of the vehicle he was in.

  21. I enjoyed the video, as I’ve never seen that happen. My experience has been many miles in 1 1/2 ton flatbeds towing farm machinery and then pulling vacation trailers & finally motor homes for about 7,000 miles, but much of the advice given for big rigs applies to other forms of transport, also. It seems too many respondents faulted the driven in the video without giving any credence to his explanation about missing a gear It’s too easy to proclaim to know the reason for mishaps, which can have many reasons, but it makes the respondent sound bigoted ans self-important. Because I’ve never experienced such mishaps doesn’t mean I haven’t had close calls of a heavy trailer pushing a tow rig dangerously, etc. The fact that I managed to avoid an accident can’t be completely skill & experience, so lighten up with the comments & celebrate with the driver that used the ramp successfully.

  22. When the brakes overheat, they lose contact with the brake drums, as the heat will make the drums expand so much that the shoes will not touch them, they don’t turn into plastic as someone said, but it can cause the brake drums to break apart, that’s why once stopped you do NOT set your parking brakes , keep them released until cool other wise they will lock up and can break all the drums as they cool down and began to shrink down again to there original size , there to many people on here that has no idea of what there talking about, most I can understand, but metal turning into plastic from the heat, come on, and as far as the slotted and drilled rotors that someone suggested , and the other said they would heat up more, ? that’s why they make them with slots and drill holes is to cool them faster, works great on cars and light trucks, not sure on large trucks,

  23. I don’t know why all the comments about gravity and blah blah blah matter. What matters is that the driver was able to safely make it to the ramp and did stop without running anyone over!

  24. I wonder how things would differ with an electric motor semi. Presumably there would be no gears, so as long as the battery bank is not full, regenerative braking could be used to slow the vehicle and recharge the batteries. Maybe a dummy load is incorporated for safety to dump excess power if necessary.

    1. Tractor trailers have to be built as light as they possibly can… the smallest tare weight possible, to maximize the amount of transport capacity. While a regenerative dynamic braking concept would be excellent for the circumstance of decending, the battery would not be able to withstand the charge rate necessary to be an effective energy absorber. A dynamic braking grid (like those used in electric and diesel-electric locomotives) would be absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, electric motors suitable for pulling those loads would weigh enough that the truck’s tare would leave it with very little capacity.

  25. Take a deep breath. It shouldn’t matter if it’s gravity, gravel, dirt, inertia, acceleration, deceleration or dumb luck. I’m just glad the driver was able to stop and no other vehicles were hit.

  26. wow. I’m looking at these comments and find myself in awe of the complete lack of understanding of even the most basic physics. “Like, some guy called Newton, before they ever had fig cakes named like him, said something about things (masses) remaining in motion in a straight line unless acted on by another force..”

    That was like, 3rd or 5th grade stuff when I was a kid..

    Somebody calculate the energy dissipation requirements for a brake (yes, BRAKE not BREAK) shoe 6″ wide by 10″ long as used stopping 40000 lbs moving at 65 mph..

    How much heat? What effect does that have on brake fade? I could do it for you but the main point is to let the next reader know some people do know the difference between “Break” and “Brake”..

    wow… a land of midgets..

    1. Hey Bernie Slanders……sure are a lot of stoopid peope in the flat world of ours after read all this. I myself drove a truck for over 40 years and went through what I saw in the video. Not a big deal if you know what your doing. But the people and their comments. I’m retired now

  27. After reading these comments I thought I’d put in a few fun facts.
    these runoffs are supposed to let the truck sink in, but sometimes in the winter they freeze hard and don’t work like they are supposed to. If you’ve cooked the brakes there is no parking brake left. Try shifting down on a truck is not like a car, after you’ve past that spot going down you can’t get it back, the motor with or without an engine brake is not going to go into a lower gear, nor will it hold back 80,000 lbs if your going to fast. Brake checks at the top of a hill, you get out and adjust them. New Brakes can smoke because they haven’t worn into the drum yet and have high spots. On Cabbage the posted speed for 80,000 lbs is 18 mph I believe…… however as you go thru the curves and hit the straight part, if you have a van trailer and jake brake you don’t have to hit the brakes at 70 mph. The wind will hold you back…. Same as CA on 15 going into Jean NV. Problem is, cars might get in front of you and don’t realize you may just go over the top of them, not being able to slow down. But sometimes it’s a blessing….. But ya might think that one over if you have all the wind deflection stuff on your truck these days. Traffic on Donner (Truckee) comes to a halt sometimes around a curve.. that will get em a little toasty… You never know, it can happen to the best or the worst of em. But if you see em smoking…..get out of their way, they are not stopping… And yes I have seen people having a picnic on Mont eagle at the start of the run off ramp… Don’t know what that ticket cost but I am betting that Trooper was having a good talk with them about it. In my day, you used to have to have, 3 years over the road before you could get hired…… Now 6 weeks in a trucking school at some college has em on the road in a couple months. Trainer’s are out there with 6 months experience. Ya might think about that when a truck is coming up behind you next time. Truckers used to warn other drivers about traffic being stopped etc on a cb radio….. Now that is silent, they have their ear muffs on talking on the phones. Go around the curve and there the traffic sits, surprise surprise surprise…. Wyoming, you can be going along all of a sudden you see ice on the highway and all of a sudden you catch a big wind gust that puts you about in the grass……. Mountain driving…. it can kill ya….. I don’t care who ya are or how long ya been doin it. Be careful….

  28. As I was going over what I think was Rabbit Ears Pass just south of Steamboat Springs. Going down hill going north, I saw a sign saying runaway truck ramp 6 miles. If There were a runaway on that stretch they would have to dig the driver out of a lot of shit. I’m sure the cab would be full of it.

  29. h = v^2/2g, where G is the acceleration of gravity, or about 32 ft/sec2

    if truck is 88 mph or 128 ft/sec, then

    h= (128 * 128) / (2 *32) = 256 ft

    so without any friction from rocks (or brakes, or air resistance, tires, etc), a truck going 88 mph could go up a 256 ft high hill before stopping. Likewise a truck on a 256 ft high hill could reach 88 mph in the absence of all of those frictions.

  30. So once stopped, how do you keep from rolling back down the emergency incline slope? Is the gravel that effective?

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