Truck Lanes and LCVs

Truck Lanes and LCVs

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Your article on truck-only toll lanes for longer-combination vehicles ("Life in the Truck Lane," March 8) paints a far too rosy picture of a concept that has numerous serious flaws.

As the article points out, the Southern California Association of Governments is one of several jurisdictions looking at LCV operations on truck-only lanes. The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents 55,000 rank-and-file public safety personnel in the state of California, strongly opposes this concept for both safety and practical considerations.

We are against allowing LCVs - triple and long-double trailer trucks - on any California roads. There is ample evidence from the U.S. Department of Transportation and our state Department of Transportation that these extra long and extra heavy trucks would be involved in more crashes. Even if limited to dedicated truck lanes - and we doubt that would be achieved - they still would pose a danger to motorists because of their size and potential to run through and over concrete barriers into the automobile traffic.

Moreover, it seems highly doubtful that the proposed configuration is realistic. If a crash occurs that results in the dedicated lane being blocked, what would happen to the triple trailer trucks that are waiting behind the scene on the dedicated truck lanes? How would emergency vehicles access these crash scenes in a timely manner?

We are also bothered by the prospect that our local government authorities are proposed to donate the highway right-of-way, staging areas and "flyovers" to the trucking industry. Why should the public subsidize the operations of even bigger trucks? A caravan of triple trailer trucks on dedicated truck lanes sounds more like a train. Perhaps more thought should be given to alternatives to hauling freight on the highways. Far from reducing congestion, truck tollways could have the opposite effect by diverting freight to highways from rail.

Due in large part to the groundswell of public opposition to bigger trucks, the California State Legislature passed SJR 7 in July 2003. This measure supports the current federal truck size and weight limitations and opposes proposals to experiment with longer and heavier trucks.

Policymakers should be applauded for recognizing the need to address ways to improve freight transportation flows in the years ahead. They should focus, however, on policies and programs that do not present new hazards to motorists and that are realistic in terms of costs and design.

Ron Cottingham


Peace Officers

Research Association