18-wheeler uses runaway ramp; driving students learn to handle big rig in mountains

Local News

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Traffic in the mountains Monday was slowed down outside Idaho Springs after an 18-wheeler was forced to use a runaway ramp as it made its way toward Denver.  

Our cameras captured the truck on the side of eastbound Interstate 70 between Idaho Springs and Denver. The rig left rut marks in the gravel on the runaway ramp.  

FOX31 took a closer look at how truck drivers learn to drive safely down the mountain without losing their brakes. 

Two years ago, a rig exploded after it crashed into traffic in Lakewood – the driver claims he lost his brakes.  

There is a push to get all drivers certified to drive in the mountains. FOX31’s Vicente Arenas rode along as Alex Saenz and Ray Burt took lessons to get their commercial driver’s licenses. “It’s pretty nerve wracking,” said Saenz.  

It was his first time driving an 18-wheeler down I-70 into Denver.  

“Without the training it would be kind of hard trying to figure out what gear to be using,” said Saenz.

Saenz and Burt took their maiden voyages all under the eye of instructor Keith Amos. 

Amos told Saenz, “Let the engine brakes do the work.”  

Eighteen-wheelers have at least three different braking systems but there are emergency truck ramps as an option if brakes fail.  

Saenz and his teacher saw a truck that had just used the ramp outside of Idaho Springs.  

Long before mountain driving begins, inspecting brakes is essential. Knowing how to inspect your rig for mountain driving is important. 

Some say drivers should be certified to driving on steep grades. 

“If you don’t have basic level of comprehension of what to expect you are going to be in a very bad precarious situation,” said Excel Driver Services Owner Jason Emory.  

Saenz is hoping to get his license by the end of this week.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Read

Top Stories