The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 54-13 [New]

Truck Escape Ramp Design and Operation
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $55,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/29/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Fiscal Year: 2023

Preliminary Scope

Transportation agencies build and operate escape ramps to allow heavy vehicles that cannot maintain safe speeds on steep downgrades to safely exit the highway before losing control and crashing. Escape ramps involve important design choices specific to roadway, terrain, and vehicle characteristics. Some escape ramps use upward-sloping beds of loose aggregate to slow the vehicles, while others employ passive or active mechanical devices such as cables to retard their motion. The use of escape ramps also requires operational choices. Some agencies use intelligent transportation technologies to detect trucks that are exceeding or may soon exceed speeds appropriate for the vehicle and the location, and to warn drivers of the need and means to exit the roadway.

Because design and operations practices vary significantly among locations and agencies, no common design standards or recommended practices exist. Brake failures on heavy vehicles descending steep grades frequently occur, often involving serious crashes and fatalities.

The objective of this synthesis is to document current practices used by state departments of transportation (DOTs) to detect, guide, and capture heavy vehicles speeding on steep downgrades.

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):
• Prevalence and extent of escape ramp use;
• Written policies and criteria for using escape ramps;
• Established design alternatives;
• Methods, including intelligent technologies, for detecting heavy vehicles that are already driving at excessive speed or are in danger of doing so;
• Methods used to inform drivers of endangered vehicles of the availability and location of escape ramps and how to access them;
• How state DOTs incorporate escape ramps into information provided to the public or trucking industry (e.g., traveler information systems, published documents, oversize and overweight vehicle permitting systems);
• How state DOTs incorporate truck escape ramps in the planning of future improvements, construction projects, or programs (e.g., permitting of oversize and overweight vehicles); and
• Opportunities identified by state DOTs for development or refinement of practice.

Information will be gathered through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• Truck Escape Ramps. NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice, Issue 178, 1992, 62 p. This synthesis was comprehensive when performed 30 years ago, before prevalent adoption of mechanical capture devices and intelligent detection and warning technology.
• Alternative Arresting System Design for Truck Escape Ramps. International Journal of Crashworthiness, Volume 23, Issue 6, 2018, pp. 618-626.
• Determining the Optimal Location for Truck Escape Ramp in the Vicinity of Expressway Tunnels in Mountainous Areas, Transportation Research Board 97th Annual Meeting, 2018, 15p.
• Design for Approach Road of Truck Escape Ramp, Third International Conference on Transportation Engineering (ICTE), 2011, pp. 2725-2730.
• Connecticut Department of Transportation's Truck Escape Ramp (TER) - Avon, CT. 4th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, 2010, 13p.
• Evaluation of Truck Arrester Beds in Colorado, 2008, 46p.
• The Design of Truck Escape Ramps, 12th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, 2005, 8p.
• Development of a New Concept in Emergency Truck Escape Ramp Design, VTI Rapport, Issue 380A PT1, 1992, pp. 193-214.
• A Review of the Dragnet Vehicle Arresting System as Applied to Runaway Truck Escape Ramps. Final Report, 1991, 21p.
• Truck Escape Ramps: Recommended Practice. ITE, 1989, 19p.

TRB Staff
Jo Allen Gause
Phone: 202-334-3826
Email: jagause@nas.edu
Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 22, 2022, Virtual
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: TBD

Topic Panel


To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5296