Watch a truck fall 70' off an icy freeway

Originally published at: Watch a truck fall 70' off an icy freeway | Boing Boing


The driver survived, thank goodness. Should probably add this to the BB article itself.


The keys to driving on icy roads are 1) slow down and 2) try to avoid hitting your brakes. Which is why 1) is so important. If you hit black ice, try to avoid doing anything (turning wheel, tapping accelerator or brakes) until you get through it. And sometimes that doesn’t work.


Looks like they stuck the landing, so… I guess there’s an upside?


Another good tip is don’t slide off the road.


How to drive in winter:

  1. Drive slower.
  2. Pick one: Brake or Turn. Try to avoid doing both at the same time.
  3. Start slowing down way early. No, earlier than that. Earlier. More early. Yeah, about then.
  4. Don’t.

Chains are really only if you’re driving out in extreme conditions, and even then will do more damage to your car/truck than they’re worth.


Video link for the BBS


As a Californian, I have no idea what it takes to drive on ice except some mythical “chains.”

Chains are usually prohibited in many areas because they damage the road. They are never meant to be used on a plowed road, like that overpass. Chains are meant to be used on unplowed roads, or roads with a snowpack surface.

Snow tires or winter tires on the other hand are softer and have a better grip for snow and ice. Definitely recommended to put these on in the winter. Whether or not studded tires are allowed depends on the area.


So many people around here think the number one rule is “have AWD”, and they all have trucks or SUVs or just Subarus with every technological measure to reduce slipping on ice…only to straight plow in to someone or end up in a ditch, because they thought computers would make their tires grip better.


To add to the winter driving tips everyone else posted, I never use cruise control when it is bad weather/icy, as it delays your reaction time. You get a better feel for what your vehicle is doing, I find, if you’re controlling the accelerator.

The one driving tip that my dad gave me for winter driving, however, I think is extremely important and overlooked a lot. If you need to get somewhere, take your time and leave early, as driving fast on the snow or ice – albeit possible – can lead to disaster if you’re traveling too fast. Just take an extra half hour to get to a place, and it might save your life.


I live in Texas where we too have very high highways with very low concrete guardrails. I drive a van and am very aware that if I were to lose control while on a fly over I could end up landing on a Wendy’s. I often wonder if there is a reason the concrete guardrails are so low. I want to assume there is (maybe falling over the side is preferred to hitting a large wall…) but I also have a cynical side which thinks maybe there’s no reason at all.


I think it depends a lot on the vehicle, sometimes trucks are a lot higher and have a different center of gravity. I’m sure the wheel base and stuff like that factors into it too. But I do the same thing on ramps like that, I don’t want to take the Wendy’s secret drive thru entrance.


To add: brake only when necessary, as little as necessary. Which also follows from #1, drive slower. That said, it’s a good habit even in fair weather conditions. Use your brakes as little as possible.


The best approach is to stay off the roads until they’re salted and sanded, but that’s often not an option. The not very good option is to reduce speed, and increase your following distance. But keep in mind that you can easily lose control and spin into a barrier even at 15MPH. The worst option is to switch on the 4-wheel drive and continue to drive as normal.

We’re in the middle of a week-long cold snap, with temperatures well below 0F/-20C. Ground temperature changes slowly, as the heat can only be lost upwards, so during a cold snap the ground doesn’t get as cold as the air. But bridges become especially treacherous as the air beneath the bridge deck cools them rapidly. When the water vapor from tailpipes falls and lands on a bridge deck, it freezes instantly and is almost invisible; the phenomenon is called “black ice”. Entrance and exit ramps also see more ice as they’re less frequently traveled. But you can encounter black ice anywhere.

There is almost no control to be had on ice. The key is to avoid allowing the tires to slip! Keeping the rolling wheels in contact with whatever the road surface is is your only chance of maintaining any steering authority at all.

If you’re in a car with a manual transmission, push in the clutch so the tires coast, and the motor can’t add or subtract energy from the wheels. If possible, stay off the brake, and allow the car to slow down. If you’re in an automatic, reduce throttle slowly to slow down, but beware that your engine and transmission may be acting as a brake, and could cause you to slip.

If you have to brake, brake as lightly as possible, but expect the tires to slip. If your car has ABS, you’ll feel the rapid pulsing of the brakes as the traction control systems are trying to regain control; this is a good thing. (Without ABS, the best approach is to “pump” your brakes rapidly with your foot, but you’ll be much less effective than ABS. Ignore the self-proclaimed “expert drivers” who claim people can outperform ABS; head-to-head testing shows very few actually beat ABS at reducing stopping distance.)

If you have to turn, turn gently. If you lose steering and the car begins to spin, take your foot off the brake and turn the wheel in the direction the car is going so you can maybe regain some control.

If your car is still going too fast and pointed at someone else’s car, try to steer into a ditch. Plowing to a stop in a snow-filled ditch is a lot less dangerous than a collision.


The other tip not yet mentioned is the one I always hate, because it’s ambiguous (at least to me): “steer into the skid.”

I never knew which way that meant, so, finally driving a car regularly in winter, I tried to work it out. It simply means point back the into the lane if you are fishtailing. Point the wheels in the direction your car is actually moving. This always seemed to me to be quite obvious, so it seemed confusing that the whole “steer into the skin” maxim was non-obvious. But I guess what’s non-obvious is that if you are steering left, it’s likely you will over-steer and start to skid, and so you will need to steer very slightly to the right.

It’s quite possible you will over-correct, so this may take more than one iteration (hence “fishtailing”).

This video was very good:


These guardrails look high enough, but the video shows a hard snow-pack along the base of the rails, which can act like a little chamfered ramp to launch the truck over the rail.


I am amazed he survived that.

I learned to drive in winter in a large abandoned mall parking lot, in the snow, in a stickshift Geo Tracker with my dad. Doing donuts for hours in the snow taught me how a car reacts to snow and ice.

I once worked with a guy who needed to get home to get heart medicine or he might die, so I got in the pull me over red 91 camaro I had at the time, and drove him home with a foot of snow compacted on the roads in a snowstorm.

I just never stopped moving, or I would have gotten stuck- just enough speed to stay moving, but really slow so I had control. Like 15 mph down a highway full of parked vehicles. The front end of the camaro was a snowplow the whole way


90% of the problem in this particular case was speed. He was going WAY too fast for the conditions.

Ice is bad, black ice worse, ramps make everything MUCH worse, and speed+ice=death.

Its -30C outside hereabouts right now, and yes I will be driving verrrrry slowly today.


And all it takes is one small patch of black ice.

When I was a senior in HS, my friends and I skipped school went skiing up near Yosemite. I was in my friend’s car and two junior guys were in their small car following us. We were way past Wawona and the road looked dry and clear as we drove along. Then my friend calmly says, “The guys just went over the side of the road.” She stopped and I got out and ran back. Their car tumbled down, between all the trees. Ski rack popped off and the car was totaled, but no injuries.

The ice patch was about 1½ ft by 1½ ft. Just bad luck.


For the plow operator, they advise not to make such a “ramp” in front of the barrier, by pushing the snow straight ahead.