Menaces on the Highways

There has been a statistic been thrown around for years, that says 46% of all automobile accidents are caused by someone impaired by drugs or alcohol. Let's remember this particular figure includes prescription medicines that cause impairment and over the counter drugs such as Unisom and cough syrups. What this means is that 54% percent are caused by someone who is not impaired at all? Now consider this "How many Americans are not constantly impaired by some medication that their doctor's have given them?" I think that anyone who has caused an accident and is not somehow impaired should have their license to drive taken away, the rest have an excuse...

For the past Decade or so there has been a lot of talk about recreational vehicles, pickups, vans sport utility. They say these heavier vehicles,(most in the 5000 - 8000 pound range) because of higher bumpers, heavier weight, and higher profile are a danger to the smaller compact automobiles. In fact in a collision with a smaller car a recreational vehicle will often drive away and the smaller compact will be "totaled".
While a SUV can cream you what I fear more is those weekend warriors, driving a motor home towing and SUV.

I have to admit, that I have been driving full size vans for over twenty years and yes I was in a couple of accidents and yes the van does win. To me that makes my vehicle a safer one, that is why I drive a van instead of a Toyota, because I want to survive when someone else screws up while driving and causes a crash. Yet there are vehicles out there I do fear ! They are called tractor trailers. Have you ever seen what happens to a minivan when it gets hit head on by a tractor trailer? It's the basically the same thing that happens to a penny left on the rail road tracks. I happen to know that the standard load for a tractor trailer is 44,000 pounds and they can get special permits for heavier loads up to and including perhaps as much as 200,000 pounds or more. I have heard that some loads are so heavy that they have a pusher vehicle to help with upgrades. That is another truck that follows and literally pushes from behind when the lead truck can't make the grade! Now I know we will never rid these monsters from our streets, because the trucking industry has such a strong lobby in Washington D.C. However I do think we should limit the dangers that these trucks can cause. On the east coast they are allowed double trailers. I assume this brings the total weight of the vehicle to well over the 100,000 pound mark. I used to drive straight box and I can tell you the heavier the load the harder it is to stop. I can also tell you that anything that is being towed is unstable. High winds wet highways tire blows out and you are all over the highway, if you are lucky enough to stay on the highway. So now you add a second towed trailer, how many acres you need to turn that beast around and how do you back something like that up? Trailer also have automatic brake locking systems, they are supposed to stop the truck in case of break failure. They often malfunction, that's why you see those unbelievably long double skid marks down the highway...

While traveling through the midwest the other day I saw something that frightened me. Double trailers are much more common on the west coast, and this one was a gasoline tanker!!! I have seen the aftermath of a tanker crash, a bridge literally melted away by the intense flames. On television cars always catch fire and explode after a crash, this rarely happens. However gasoline tankers usually do blow up when involved in crashes. Now why would they want to double that risk?

As frightening as those images are, on the west coast they have an even more frightening combination. I actually have been seeing triple trailers traveling the highway. Hey guys on the east coast we call those things trains and give them tracks to ride upon. That's three places to bend. that makes up to forty tires to blow out. Because of the expense of tires most truckers run retreads, recycling is environmentally correct, except when those retreads fly off in the summer heat. Anyone who travels at all has seen those big pieces of rubber and steel lying along the highway. If you have ever roller skated or ice skated and played crack the whip I am sure you can see the dangers.. involved here. While traveling across Idaho the other day, I was following a triple trailer, I watched as the third trailer swayed back and forth like a hay wagon on a dirt road. Later I saw a triple trailer truck pass a double trailer truck, never mind the posted limit for trucks is 65 mph and traffic was moving 75. I watched (and slowed down to fall back) as these two monsters passed each other, the turbulence between the trailers caused all five trailers to sway back and forth.. Nothing happened this time out the pass was safely made. But I did wonder what kinds of reactions are caused when trucks like these drive in heavy winds or pass each other from opposite directions? I think we should ban triple trailers, no saved expense is worth the danger posed by these trucks.

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