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A runaway truck occurs when a semi-truck or its trailer loses the ability to stop or keep itself under control. These are without a doubt the most dangerous conditions a driver of a car, truck, SUV, or even another semi-truck, can face on the road.

These accidents are typically rear-end collisions and can lead to death of those who are in the path of the truck. These accidents also typically happen when a truck is going down a hill or mountain.


Many new or modern 18-wheelers or semi-trucks have advanced braking systems, but despite this, accidents can still happen. This is typically the case when the brakes fail on the truck or when the driver takes a turn too fast on a road that is curvy and has a steep slope. Loss of friction of the tires and heating can make runaway trucks or their trailer also both common and make them worse.

There is also a condition known as brake fade or brake effectiveness, which is just what it sounds like: the brakes’ effectiveness starts to decline, especially when the truck goes down a hill or curve. There are different kinds of fade in brakes. The first is friction fade. Friction fade can be stopped entirely if there is the right kind of maintenance done.

The second is mechanical fade. This happens when heat created by friction allows the drum to expand, which is not good, because if the drum increases to a certain extent, the brakes are not as effective. Eventually, this expansion can lead to brakes that fail, which in turns leads to out of control runaway trucks.

The third is called fluid fade. Most rigs now have what are called hydraulic braking systems and they need fluid to get the pads to work when the driver pushes the pedal. When friction caused by the brakes leads to fluid inside the system to boil and eventually vaporize, then fluid fade can lead to braking issues, and eventually an out of control truck that cannot stop.

Domino fade is the fourth kind of fade. The brakes can become overheated from being used too much and this is especially true if the brakes are not in proper adjustment, which causes a load that is too heavy on one or two of the wheels and not as much on the other wheels. If this happens, then you can have a domino effect where the brakes fail, and the truck goes out of control.


Semi-trucks are normally considered commercial vehicles, which means more government regulation and larger insurance policies insuring the vehicle. The government places stricter regulations on commercial vehicles. Semi-truck vehicles that are not considered commercial vehicles, such as 18-wheelers, are much freer to enter residential neighborhoods and streets, because 18-wheelers and more traditional commercial vehicles are prohibited from entering such streets and neighborhoods.

Sometimes runaway truck companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles and they put their drivers in trucks that are not safe, for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • Brakes that are old and not working
  • Balding tires that need replaced
  • And other mechanical issues that need addressed and fixed.