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Old 05-26-2019, 07:33 PM   #1
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Poor Brake Practice and Runaway Ramps

So you've overheated your brakes and you are now a runaway train down a 6% grade and see the runaway ramp and head straight for it, you hit it and come to a screeching halt buried to your axles. Your safe, you think the worst is over. Nope, you're in for a world of hurt now. It may be different for non CDL drivers but why risk it, learn your proper brake procedures.
Check this out:

Never had to use one (knock on wood) but Iíve heard stories about it from other drivers. The deep sand/gravel sinks the truck almost immediately. It may pull left/right depending on how it was grated though. Speed on entering and load weight both determines how far up the ramp youíll travel before it stops ya though. One driver who had to use a ramp in Oregon on Cabbage hill (the blues mountain range between La Grande and Pendleton on I-84) said he wasnít sure if he would stop because he went almost all the way to the top of the runaway ramp before it stopped him. The sand/gravel gets deeper the higher you climb on them apparently (not sure if thatís true, but itís what Iíve heard).

Using the ramp isnít the part that hurts though. Itís the massive tickets you get for using them. YES they are for safety, BUT you shouldnít need to use them according to DOT and I somewhat agree with that sentiment. If you did a PTI , stopped at the top of the hill and checked your brakes-adjusted if necessary at the top, and took the hill in the proper gear you wouldíve never needed the runaway ramp.

Now to explain why the tickets are worse lol.

if you have a brake failure that caused the use of the ramp-improper vehicle maintenance and inspection $100Ė1000 depending on the state it happened and if they can prove both youíre screwed)
Tow truck to anchor and yank ya out ($3500 minimum fee)
Failure to maintain a travel lane ($90,sometimes more)
You get to pay for the officers and EMS dispatched to the ramp because itís solely your fault for having used the ramp
You get to pay for them to grate it again so someone else can use it if necessary
Improper speed for grade and/or conditions
Massive repair bill to fix the damage caused by using the ramp and being yanked out
Youíve likely just lost your job and potentially your CDL and this goes on your PSP report (companies report accidents/incidents/tickets and things like service failure-being late picking up or delivering of loads- and any safety violations on here so future employers can see everything each driver has done at previous jobs) which means no good company will risk their insurance premiums skyrocketing to hire you
Thatís just a summation of the most common things Iíve heard about from drivers who have used a ramp. Iím sure thereís more, but like I said I have never had to use one so I donít know how accurate the stories were. As an owner though Iíd have some questions for a potential employee who had to use a ramp and the circumstances around the event, but unless it was an extreme random event that led to them using the ramp I likely wouldnít hire them. If itís the only problem theyíve had theyíd have a better chance of getting hired, but it would be a big factor in my decision.

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Old 05-26-2019, 07:47 PM   #2
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I saw that too - and in the beginning of May, there was another viral video of a truck using one of the ramps in Colorado.

https://jalopnik.com/heres-your-chan...lopnik_twitter

"Colorado State Patrol made it clear in an interview with Fox 31 Denver that there are no penalties for truckers using the runaway truck ramps—that’s what they’re there for, after all.

Unfortunately, the high cost of extracting a truck from one of the ramps, which can range from $4,000 to $10,000, is often a factor in drivers deciding to risk controlling a runaway truck with no brakes instead of using the ramp."

Could be one of those different laws in different states things?

Could also be another armchair expert on Quora. I've seen LOTS of those.
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Old 05-26-2019, 10:39 PM   #3
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I've been told TN collects money for using the runaway ramps, but not actually confirmed it.


But since we're on the subject, let's discuss proper brake maintenance and use. The most obvious, but at least in the trucking industry, often neglected is brake maintenance. Shoes and drums wear out and need replacement as necessary. On air brake systems, you have brake chambers, slack adjusters, S-cams, and associated bearings, bushings, and springs. Getting into proper maintenance is the subject for threads all their own, but suffice it to say there's no shortage of youtube vids showing how to do much of this and what to look for. Hydraulic brakes are a bit different, most don't have S-cams and the associated hardware, but drums/shoes or disks/pads which also wear out and need replacement.


Now for the meat of the subject, why have runaway ramps at all if the brakes are kept up to par? Brakes work by converting kinetic energy (motion) into heat energy using friction. The heat is absorbed (and subsequently dissipated) by the drums/disks and shoes/pads (as appropriate). 99% of the time the system will absorb the heat and cool off and we'll never notice any problems. But start downhill, with a heavy load, and ride the brakes constantly, and the system builds up heat with no chance to cool down. At some point, it gets very hot and we get what's called "Brake Fade" - you'll need more pedal effort (more brake pressure) to get the same amount of stopping power. Continuing this, the system eventually can't absorb any more heat and even with the pedal floored, no further stopping effort is available. At this point, you have engine braking (if any) and wind resistance holding you back.


Brake fade is a very dangerous and very serious problem for heavy trucks and a lot of money and effort is spent to educate drivers how to prevent it. Our buses aren't as heavy (well, some might be!) but as (hopefully) safe drivers we still want to be conscientious of this and drive in a manner to prevent it. The first thing is to stop at the top of any long grades and do a check. I don't mean just coming to a stop and continuing on your merry way. Now's a good time to make sure *ALL* the brakes work - it's on you if they don't. Once you're back on the road, drop a gear or 2. You can do it too slow a million times (safely), but you can only do it once too fast. *KEEP THE SPEED DOWN!* I cannot stress this enough! In many cases, you may be able to go all the way down and not even touch the brakes, but if you do ... Use the "Stab Braking" technique. Basically, allow your speed to build to about 5 over your "target speed". Give a moderate brake application to slow your speed 5-10 MPH, to a speed under your target. Let off the brakes! They need a chance to dissipate some of the heat they just absorbed. Continue downhill until you reach the 5-over speed again, and continue the stab braking all the way down the grade. You should be getting at least 15 seconds between each brake application (more is better). If you are picking up too much speed, too quickly between brake applications, you are going too fast and in too high of a gear. Slow down, drop another gear, and you'll make it safely down the grade.


This is one of those things that's hard to convey by text, but picked up by actually doing it. Empty buses are pretty hard to overheat the brakes on (assuming the brake system is up to par) and many of us will have (or will soon develop) a reasonably good feel for our buses as we begin driving them after conversion.
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Old 05-26-2019, 10:42 PM   #4
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Marc, thanks for posting this. Gives us some food for thought.
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Old 05-26-2019, 11:03 PM   #5
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The truck manufacturers need the start installing the magnetic braking systems on all trucks. Works on the driveshaft and has been proven to work great and greatly extends brake life. Itís a no brainer it should be mandatory on these trucks hauling up to 80,000 lbs, but until Big Brother makes it mandatory it will never happen.
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Old 05-27-2019, 12:01 AM   #6
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hydraulic brakes

flush brake fluid once a year.

william
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgorila1 View Post
The truck manufacturers need the start installing the magnetic braking systems on all trucks. Works on the driveshaft and has been proven to work great and greatly extends brake life. It’s a no brainer it should be mandatory on these trucks hauling up to 80,000 lbs, but until Big Brother makes it mandatory it will never happen.

Most big trucks (in the U.S. at least) have "Jake Brakes", also known as engine brakes. Used properly and sensibly, does the same job and doesn't require yet another outside system that adds weight and complexity to the trucks. I can't remember a big truck I've driven in the last 20 years that didn't have one.


School buses often have these (commonly called retarders) but I question their effectiveness below a certain speed (I admit I've never used one). But I've driven engine-braked trucks on which the system would work all the way down into low gear - around 2 MPH.
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:49 AM   #8
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living in colorado and having a bus/at545, i've had my share of "oh **** " moments. i tow a trailer up to the mountains, and then back down when the weekend is over.

when i get it trouble, its from coming down the hill too fast, trying to stay with traffic. most of the steep grades are slow anyway, like 35 mph. but the grades are full of sharp turns when they can have a speed sign of 10mph for a turn.

when i flow with traffic, that 35mph, to 10 mph, back to 35, and back to 10 will light your brakes on fire. a car does it easy peasy, the bus not so. the trick is to not let it speed back up and be patient and slow. maybe 10-25mph is doable, but if you do it over and over, you will over heat the brakes.

stab braking is my preferred hill descent technique. when you hit the posted limit, hit the brakes to quickly get you down 10-15mph, and let gravity speed you back up the the speed limit.

i have a locking transmission now and life is much easier as it helps control the downhill speed too.

i like to turn on the 4 ways, sit back and go slow.

i do always wonder what to check at a brake check with my auto slack adjusters. i usually blow by those

here is a clip of mine while i went down Wolf Creek Pass last january. pretty sure it was posted 25 and i never got faster than that. 15 miles in about 30secs, enjoy!

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Old 05-27-2019, 01:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Most big trucks (in the U.S. at least) have "Jake Brakes", also known as engine brakes. Used properly and sensibly, does the same job and doesn't require yet another outside system that adds weight and complexity to the trucks. I can't remember a big truck I've driven in the last 20 years that didn't have one.


School buses often have these (commonly called retarders) but I question their effectiveness below a certain speed (I admit I've never used one). But I've driven engine-braked trucks on which the system would work all the way down into low gear - around 2 MPH.

l agree with Brad
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Most big trucks (in the U.S. at least) have "Jake Brakes", also known as engine brakes. Used properly and sensibly, does the same job and doesn't require yet another outside system that adds weight and complexity to the trucks. I can't remember a big truck I've driven in the last 20 years that didn't have one.


School buses often have these (commonly called retarders) but I question their effectiveness below a certain speed (I admit I've never used one). But I've driven engine-braked trucks on which the system would work all the way down into low gear - around 2 MPH.
a jake brake is complex, imo.
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