Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The environment and longer, heavier trucks

I don’t know where the proponents of longer-heavier trucks get their environmental statistics from, but perhaps the greater mystery is why some agencies and lawmakers take the bait.

Large carriers and a certain prevue of lawmakers and agencies continue to say that putting longer, heavier trucks on the highways will conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A single tractor would replace two tractors hauling two trailers on major highways, but let’s remember that the single tractor is going to work harder and burn more fuel with a double than with a single. And we haven’t even gotten to the logistics yet.

Longer, heavier trucks would still be prohibited from traveling on secondary roads, and everybody knows they can’t make deliveries, so guess what? That second tractor would be put right back into commission to haul the extra trailer for delivery or pickup.

That first truck, the one configured to pull doubles, would not be spec’d to pull a single trailer, thereby poking another hole in the efficiency argument.

Creating new infrastructure and staging areas and terminals for hookups is not a silver bullet for the environment, and the replacement of prematurely worn-out roads and bridges can’t possibly be green.

Proposals that would allow longer-combination vehicles, or LCVs, are flawed because all they do is put road trains on already congested highways – long, slow road trains.

We should be finding ways to mitigate congestion, not forcing motorists to merge and navigate around double or even triple trailers. What about the fuel the four-wheelers burn as they slow down and speed up to get around the road trains? That isn’t exactly green either. And it’s another argument against the speed-limiter agenda. But we’ll leave that for another day.

Mega carriers want doubles and triples so they can haul more freight without paying drivers more. You know, more axles, fewer drivers. It lines their pockets while suppressing freight rates and driver pay.

The stuff about longer, heavier trucks saving fuel and greenhouse gas emissions is a smokescreen … a large, slow-moving smokescreen for the real agenda.