|Image source: Reddit.|
Until I drove from Cincinnati to D.C. a few weeks ago, passing through West Virginia. I saw a sign that read, "Runaway Truck Ramp 1 Mile" and of course the "useless information" section of my brain lit right up. Sure enough, it looked exactly like I'd always pictured it.
The day I drove to D.C. was also my father's birthday, so I called him that evening to tell him I was walking along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House, and oh, I saw some runaway truck ramps on the drive in. No prizes for guessing which one he was more excited about--he's never seen one in person, either.
"Did you have to use it?" he asked, because everybody's a comedian, and then he went on to tell me that if I used it, I'd have to be towed back out. Then he said, "You probably wouldn't have to have your bicycle towed out. You can probably just pick that up and walk out." I was about to ask how far he thought I would fly if I hit one of those ramps on a bicycle, when he added, "Of course, you're going to go over the handlebars if you hit one of those on a bike." Yeah. Wherever I landed, I doubt I would be walking away.
Anyway, like many last-ditch safety features, most of these ramps are not used a lot (thank goodness, although there's one in Colorado that's used 20+ times a year), but when they're needed, they're critical. Caltrans posted a video a few months back of one in action--you can see in the video how fast the truck stopped. It's incredible how such a simple idea as having a gravel pit as a backup plan can save lives.
What's a backup plan you hope to never, ever use?