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What Is a Runaway Delivery Truck? 

Posted in New Mexico Truck Accidents

A runaway delivery truck is an extremely dangerous situation in which a truck driver loses control of a truck entirely. Delivery drivers are unable to stop runaway trucks, often due to brake failure on a downhill slope. If not handled correctly, an emergency involving a runaway truck could result in a catastrophic delivery truck accident in New Mexico.

What Causes a Runaway Delivery Truck?

A runaway delivery truck is one that the truck driver has lost control of. Using the brakes on a runaway truck will not reduce its speed or bring the truck to a stop. The truck driver will be unable to stop or slow the big rig down effectively – potentially resulting in a truck accident. For this reason, runaway trucks pose significant risks to public safety.


Many factors can contribute to a delivery truck becoming a runaway vehicle, including:

  • Brake fade or failure: the brakes of a large truck may fade, or stop working as effectively, due to issues such as excessive use and overheating. They may also stop working completely due to mechanical failures, brake fluid leaks and worn-out brake components.
  • Truck driver errors: commercial truck drivers are responsible for knowing how to safely and correctly use a large truck’s braking system. Mistakes such as choosing the wrong gear, using the brake system incorrectly and failing to engage the parking brake can lead to a runaway truck.
  • Steep inclines and declines: runaway delivery trucks are most common in locations with steep inclines and declines. In these places, the force of gravity can overpower a truck’s braking system, especially if the truck is carrying a heavy load.
  • Improperly loaded truck: a delivery truck with a load that is too heavy or not properly balanced can affect the truck’s stability and performance. If the truck’s center of gravity is impacted, it could lose control and become a runaway.
  • Inadequate truck maintenance: a negligent failure to inspect, maintain and repair a delivery truck’s brakes and engine could lead to a loss of vehicle control. Mechanical issues such as engine failures, fluid leaks and brake failures can contribute to runaway truck incidents.

A runaway delivery truck is often an avoidable accident risk. If due care is taken to properly maintain a truck, ensure safe and balanced cargo loads, and train delivery truck drivers effectively, the risk of a runaway truck will be significantly decreased.

What Should a Truck Driver Do in Case of a Runaway Truck?

In the event of a runaway truck, if the driver has lost the ability to brake, he or she should use the following techniques to mitigate the dangers of this situation:

  • Remain calm and avoid sudden movements that could cause the vehicle to crash or rollover.
  • Use the engine brake – which is separate from the wheel brakes – to help prevent brake fade.
  • Pump the brakes rather than pressing on them constantly (if it is not an antilock braking system).
  • Attempt to downshift to regain control of the truck.
  • Use emergency runaway truck ramps (sand or gravel lanes), if available.

If a delivery truck company fails to properly maintain its trucks or train its drivers on properly managing runaway truck risks, the company could be held responsible for a related crash. For information about an injury claim involving a runaway truck, contact The Fine Law Firm for a free consultation.