One day, we’re going to write a book called “The Trouble with Trucks” and it is going to document all of the issues with truck traffic on our highways in modern society.  There isn’t a day in the Greater Toronto Area that there isn’t a traffic snarl caused by a truck accident here, a flipped truck there, a truck losing its load all over the highway or any manner of calamity that ends up closing the roadways for extended periods of time.

Take today for instance; a truck crashes into another diesel fuel truck on the 401 Highway outside of Milton.  The crash happens just after midnight, but as of mid-afternoon the highway is still closed because the spilled diesel fuel has emulsified the asphalt pavement.  So beyond just removing the big trucks, cleaning up the road, now they have to literally grind out the bad pavement and repave the roadway.

The 401 has perhaps 400,000 vehicles per day through that section.  Let’s say the crash and the subsequent delays and detouring onto alternative routes impacted half of that number of vehicles (being conservative).  If the typical delay was, say 15 minutes of added commute time, then that single crash added 50,000 hours of delay to the economy.  Assume an average hourly cost of $50/hr (when you consider the delays in shipping and what not) and what you have is essentially one jackass truck driver causing, conservatively,  $2.5 million dollars in damage to the economy, never mind the actual cost to fix things.

Anyone who has driven the 401 has to be amazed at the level of truck traffic volumes.

Trucks not only seem to be the source of a high proportion of these types of accidents, but also a single truck trip causes more damage to pavement than 10,000 car trips over the same surface (hard to believe, but true), trucks are hard on fuel, half of these trucks are half empty in the name of just-in-time delivery and the geometric designs of most our roads, highways and intersections is done to accomodate truck turning movements, and thus we are in a sense “overbuilding” our roadway infrastructure.

Whatever happened to trains?

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