Runaway Truck


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It could have been just road dust, too; it's difficult to say.

Different Types of Runaway Truck Ramps

Those brake citations include one count of The rap sheet also includes two citations related to its drivers' ability to speak and understand English: one count of Permanent Resident from Cuba, here legally with a green card. He has no known criminal record, police say, and there was no evidence that Aguilera-Mederos had alcohol or drugs in his system at the time. The Lakewood County police spokesperson, Ty Countryman, is quoted in several TV news reports saying investigators do not believe the crash was intentional.

Aguilera-Mederos now faces at least four charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving related to the crash.

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Published reports indicate Aguilera-Mederos told investigators that his brakes failed while driving down the hill. That's pretty well where the facts end at this point in the investigation. Experts will no doubt conduct a forensic analysis of the truck's brakes and dig much deeper into the driver's background, including his experience, training, etc. The history of violations noted above along with others detailed in its Safety Measurement System profile of the five-truck fleet don't paint a picture of a very responsible motor carrier.

With that said, I wonder where federal regulators were on this one? Castellano's vehicle out-of-service rate, But how can a fleet with just five trucks run up 17 violations from 19 roadside inspections in less than two years without attracting a little attention?


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Screen capture from a video shot by a motorist of the alleged crash truck driving past a runaway ramp, minutes before the crash. While I have had a few moments on some of those hills I know all too well what hot brakes smell like , I have never had to use a runaway truck ramp. I have seen them in several forms in various places around the country. They range from side exits from the highway leading to steep upgrades designed to slow to the speed of the truck, to arrester beds filled with soft gravel, dirt or sand laid alongside the travel lanes of the highway.

The one on I in Colorado was the latter type. The truck wheels are supposed to sink into the soft gravel and slow the truck. It must be a rough ride. Clearly the driver in Colorado didn't understand the purpose of a runaway ramp. I think it's safe to say that further investigation will reveal this driver had little or no mountain driving training.

He hails from Houston Texas, which is flatter than pee on a plate. Even if they had wanted to, no driving school in that part of the country could have prepared him for the likes of the grades he would face in Colorado's High Country. In fact, there are very few places in the U. The CDL manual from Texas, for example, has five sub-sections on mountain driving, including braking techniques, descriptions of brake fade and how to "select a safe speed.

For what it's worth, Pennsylvania and Colorado have the same 1. Take from that what you want. Google Earth screen grab of the far end of the 2,ft long arrester bed runaway truck ramp on I near Lakewood, Colorado. The school is surrounded by mountains, and the only way in or out of town is up or down some very big hills. He offers a mountain driving program, and is, in my opinion, an expert on the subject. Roberts told me most schools pay lip service to the subject, because the instructors probably haven't had the mountain driving experience, or they are just teaching the students to pass the road test in their jurisdiction, which probably doesn't have a mountain upon which to test the students.

The other train of thought is to use the same gear going down the hill that you'd use to climb it, but that doesn't always work because the driver maybe didn't come up the hill first. The other problem with that theory, Roberts says, is today's big high-torque engines are capable climbing some hills at a pretty good speed — faster than he's comfortable with in a long descent.

MTI's mountain driving course teaches proper procedures for ascending and descending long mountain grades, including methods to complete difficult downhill downshifts when the wrong gear has been selected for descending a grade, as well as methods for identifying sharp curves ahead of time and proper procedures for dealing with them.

Students also learn how to choose the correct gears for downgrades and anticipating grade changes. It's a four-day course with three days of on-road instruction. Pretty safe to say Aguilera-Mederos had nothing like that kind of training. I would not be at all surprised if brake condition was found to be a contributing factor in this crash.

The trip between the Eisenhower Tunnel and the crash site is about 50 miles — and it's downhill all the way. It's not a constant grade, mind you, but the elevation drops nearly 5, feet over that distance in several steps, some steeper than others. If the driver was not an experienced mountain driver, his brakes would likely have been pretty warm by the time he got to the crest at Overlook.

Driver Swerved Away From The Runaway Truck Ramp

If his brakes weren't properly adjusted, some of them could have been hotter — and thus less effective — than the others, leading to the better adjusted brakes doing most of the work and thus heating up even faster. Back in my day, drivers often adjusted their own brakes or had them set up regularly by a pro before venturing to higher altitudes. This was in the days before self-adjusting brakes were mandated.

Today, I think few drivers even give their brakes a second thought, despite being required to inspect them each day. We won't know anything about the condition of the brakes on the crash truck until they are inspected — and they will be. Post-crash photos show the trailer wheels are still in decent shape, though the tractor wheels look they have been through Hell and back. But experts are able to come to firm conclusions about the pre-crash condition of the brakes despite their present condition.

Runaway Truck Ramp: The Safe Way to Stop an Out-of-Control Semi

One thing is certain in this case: The brakes didn't fail — they were overburdened. With any truck air-brake system, the fail-safe position is the brakes are applied.

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If there's a loss of air pressure, the spring brakes will apply. There are two such systems on truck, the primary and secondary. In the highly unlikely event one suffered a loss of air pressure, the other would continue to function. But even if there was a loss of pressure in one system and the spring brakes did apply, there would likely not be enough application torque to make a significant difference in the truck's braking capacity.

The brake drum expands outward away from the force being applied by the brake shoes, rendering the brake ineffective. If all his wheel-ends were in such a state, the outcome would have been inevitable. It has not been reported how long Aguilera-Mederos has been driving or how long he has had a CDL, but he would have no more than two years of experience driving outside of Texas in places like Colorado. His level of training and experience will surely come out in the investigation, but again, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that lack of experience played a role in this crash.

The problem is, experience isn't required to drive a truck, even in places like Colorado, where I would call it a necessity. Based solely on my experience, when a driver can feel the brakes beginning to show signs of fade, it's time to pull over. Even if you already partway down the hill and the pedal starts feeling different, there's still enough brake there to stop in most circumstances.


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  • Unfortunately, there are no guidelines or references to draw on for how much brake you have left or how long it will take to stop. It varies with the weight and speed of the vehicle and the steepness of the grade. That's why it's critical that drivers don't fly over the top of the hill and start down the other side without slowing. Yet hardly anyone does that these days. They just flip on the engine brake and continue at highway speed.

    Terrell told KDVR that he had just exited the Eisenhower Tunnel when he noticed that something was very wrong with the truck traveling on the interstate in front of him. In the video, you can see that the truck goes almost all the way up the ramp before coming to a stop. The Colorado State Patrol says that the truck driver made the right decision in taking the ramp and points out that there are no fines or citations for a truck driver who uses a ramp for the intended purpose.

    The incident happened just one day after 23 year old truck driver Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos caused a 28 vehicle pileup on I west of Denver, Colorado. Four people lost their lives in the crash. Aguilera-Mederos told police that he lost his brakes on a mountainous stretch of the interstate and was captured on camera bypassing a runaway truck ramp.

    Aguilera-Mederos has since been charged with vehicular homicide. Download the App. Home Videos Trucker takes runaway ramp in dramatic video.


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