Monday, May 12, 2008

What happens when the race is all tortoise, no hare?

One of the biggest issues today in the trucking industry is the attempt by two Canadian provinces to require all trucks traveling through their borders to have a speed limiter set at 65 miles per hour.

Few issues have generated this many calls to our program.

One of the chief concerns that some truckers have is the so-called “turtle races” or “elephant races” that develop when one limited truck tries to pass another.

And that aspect of the limiter issue brings up all kinds of issues.

Here’s one:

We hear all the time that the federal Department of Transportation wants to use congestion pricing and tolling to reduce traffic clogs on our highways.

If the government really cares about congestion, how about we avoid a system that guarantees huge backups as one limited truck tries to pass another?

Of course, the reality is that they really don’t care about congestion. They’re just using it as a backdoor way to achieve their real goal – selling off our highways to private corporations, mainly companies from foreign nations.

Here’s another:

One of our listeners witnessed one of these elephant races recently, a passing maneuver that took 7½ miles to complete. And that points to some real safety concerns.

What happened after the first truck finally finished passing the slower rig 7½ miles later? I’m betting that one four-wheeler after another scrambled to get by the two rigs, jumping in and out and accelerating to wild speeds.

I only say that because every time I see that situation on the highway, that’s the next thing that happens. It’s like they all think they have to make up the time they lost while the trucks were side by side.

Well, guess what? Those maneuvers, the passing, the lane jumping, the cutting off, the speeding past slower vehicles … all of that is behavior that leads to accidents.

If the two trucks were allowed to move at the prevailing speed of traffic, if the passing truck were allowed to accelerate enough to complete the passing maneuver in a reasonable amount of time, if it weren’t limited … far less of that activity, if any, would take place.

That makes the roads safer. And it’s just one reason why speed limiters don’t.