Every driver has had to think about the scary situation of losing your brakes either while parked or going downhill. The thought of having to choose how to survive is something that can rattle the stoutest person.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office in Manchester, Washington posted some pictures where an unnamed driver had to make that choice when his brakes failed and his fully loaded flatbed would not stop. The driver was on East Main Street near Elliot Bay, and luckily the Pomeroy Park Boat Ramp.
Thankfully, the truck driver was able to manage a sharp curve before lining up for the ramp. Sounding his horn to warn boaters and onlookers, he was able to safely put the tractor-trailer into the bay, with its load of metal still completely secured onboard.
So what do you do when the truck will not slow down
Operating a 40-ton tractor-trailer at highway speed and having the brakes not engage is something you never want to experience. Also, parking in a rest area for a quick trip to the restroom and coming out to find your truck in the ditch can be just as painful.
A proper daily pre-trip and regular professional inspections should be able to catch many potential brake issues before they escalate into cascade failures. Excess play in the slack adjuster, thin brake pad material, and worn S-cams are symptoms that need to be handled promptly.
There is no racing chute built into the big rigs we drive.
Trying to get onto the rumble strip on the shoulder might slow you down a little. At the least, it will make a lot of noise and warn bystanders.
If it comes to making the decision on stopping the truck by any means in order to prevent loss of life, carefully putting the truck against the concrete barriers or guardrails should be the next option. Yes, you might split the fuel tank open, but anything is better than running full tilt into someone’s car or truck.
The final option is to put it in the ditch. Hopefully, there is a hard shoulder you can drive one side off on and try to get the truck to decelerate.
If not, try to find a shallow section of the ditch where it would be a smooth maneuver off the road. The goal would be to avoid rolling the truck, although the chances of that are slim.
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