Wednesday, August 21, 2013
By AYODEJI ADEYEMI
Runaway Ramp on Atlanta-Mashville highway, USA
They had beautiful dreams and high expectations, but all it took to put an end to such were two trailers with failed brakes. That was the evil that cut short the lives of seven road users recently along the Onitsha–Asaba Expressway, when two trailers bizarrely experienced failed brakes almost simultaneously. They ran over cars and motorcycles, crushing them in the process, mangling human flesh with steel. It was indeed a gory site as onlookers ran helter-skelter.
Sadly, such tragedy has become a recurring feature on most of the nation’s high and expressways, as lorries, tankers and trailers with failed brakes have cut short the lives of several thousand road users while destroying properties running into millions of naira
Yet these tragedies could be prevented without the need to wave a magical wand. What is needed is the simple adoption of the model of constructing runaway truck ramps just before the steep descent on the high roads and expressways. This allows big vehicles with failed brakes to veer off the road, thereby averting the danger of such entering a descent without control.
Runaway truck ramps are usually long, sand or gravel-filled lanes adjacent to roads with steep grade. The gravel on the road allows the truck’s momentum to be reduced in a controlled manner, allowing the driver to bring the vehicle to a halt harmlessly. This model has been used to excellent effect in Western countries like the United States, US, and the United Kingdom, where authorities are always prepared for all sorts of emergency situations. In these countries, runaway truck ramps have prevented big vehicles with failed brakes from killing other road users.
For such countries, it is simply about being prepared. This sense of preparedness is also extended to the aviation sector where airports are built with large room for emergency landings. In the same vein, the US in fact even went as far as building emergency landing sites for its space shuttle in the case of any unforeseeable circumstances in far-flung places in Africa and across Europe. These sites are well manned with personnel even though they have never been used before.
Though Nigeria may not need to keep its powder dry with regard to space travel, it however currently has a golden chance to catch up with other countries with regards to constructing the life-saving runaway truck tramps. The opportunity is presented through ongoing rehabilitation works on major highways such as the Lagos–Ibadan Expressway and the East-West Road, among others. It is hoped that in this regard, government will now make hay while the sun shines.