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Do runaway truck lanes save lives?

If you are a frequent driver on the highways into and out of Pittsburgh, you probably have noticed offshoots of loose gravel roads jutting off of the main highway on steep roads. These are known as runaway truck lanes.

Their purpose is to gradually slow the momentum of a barreling semitruck that has lost its brakes on a steep descent before that truck can careen into traffic and maim or kill motorists and their passengers.

A prime example of a runaway truck lane here in Pittsburgh is the one adjacent to Green Tree Hill just before the tunnels. It was built in 1980 as a response to a runaway big rig that was laden with a load of potatoes when it rolled uncontrollably onto the Fort Pitt Bridge before crashing downtown. Four died in the carnage and as many as seven others suffered injuries in the runaway truck accident.

The mountainous terrain of a good portion of our state means that drivers are at high risk of injury or death should a heavily-loaded semitruck lose its brakes. These runaway truck lanes indeed can and do save lives.

Of course, the better option is for tractor-trailer drivers to frequently monitor the condition of the brakes in their big rigs so that they can avert these near disasters. After all, not every steep descent down a mountain road is accompanied by a runaway truck ramp.

No trucker should ever count on these ramps as their first line of defense against a horrific highway accident. Instead, they are an option of last resort when disaster strikes.

If you were injured in a wreck with a big rig, you may need to file a claim for damages to ensure that your medical bills and other losses are compensated.