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Keep on truckin?

If there is any correlation between the number of trucks on the highway and the economy, these are prosperous times. It must bode well for our industry considering most of these tractor-trailer outfits have 18 tires. On the drive to Louisville for the Rubber Division meeting there were times it looked like a number of small trains of anywhere from three to a dozen freight haulers traveling in both directions. Obviously, from the license plates on the trucks, interstate and intrastate commerce is running at a good rate. There are even a number of dump trucks that have a tank-like appearance and 18 wheels. Even in this political season it would be hard to put a negative spin on this, but at the risk of being called a heretic, I'm going to do just that.

Using a conservative estimate, if each tire weighs 50 lbs., there is approximately 900 lbs. of tires per vehicle. Close to 600 lbs. of rubber per vehicle, just in tires, is traveling from 55 to 85 miles per hour covering tremendous distances. You would think I would want to encourage more of this type of moving commerce but I don't. Not if they continue to share the roads with passenger cars. I don't think we should be turning our interstates into rail lines without rails. It might be a source of pride to see a long convoy of trucks unless your headed in the same direction, over hilly stretches of highway where the trucks go 55 mph up the hills and 85 mph down. This makes for a thrilling ride, no matter what speed you're trying to maintain. Thrills that should be reserved for amusement parks. Travelling 65 mph, you have to pass a convoy going up a hill. Until that one driver feels that he is going to pass the 40-footers in front of him that are only going 54 mph. Once you crest the hill, if you're not going 80 you'd better et out of the passing lane because one of these behemoths will be on your bumper. The problem is, the right lane is a solid line of trucks now traveling as fast as you. You look out your side window and see a couple of those tires you were feeling so good about a little while ago. eye level.

I did an informal survey of people who do a lot of driving over the interstates and this is a common occurrence. Occurrences that I'm sure keep many drivers off the interstates and this is where my concern lies. There is a growing number of trucks on the highways because of the deplorable condition of our rail system. Goods have to be delivered and the interstates seem to be the favorite method. But when you travel them and see the trains of trucks you wonder what happened to the rail system? I'm not so sure that a revival of the rail system is the answer. There may be many reasons it's not feasible. Maybe we should construct truck interstates for truck only traffic. That way many more drivers will feel comfortable traveling and cars won't be the nuisance they are to truck drivers.
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Title Annotation:trucks on the interstate highways
Author:Smith, Don R.
Publication:Rubber World
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 1, 1996
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