Truck drivers and motorcycle riders seem to share a kinship of the open road.
However, at the risk of upsetting truckies, there is a great divide between the two, not just in size, but in transport and road safety issues.
While motorcycles can be the solution to many traffic problems, trucks are often the cause, and in road safety issues, trucks usually kill other roads users while bikers usually only wipe out themselves.
Trucks are responsible for the deaths of more than 300 people a year in Australia and 4500 a year in the US.
New research just published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion shows trucks account for 8% of US highway traffic, yet are involved in 11% of fatal road crashes.
Professor Bill Russell, deputy director of Melbourne University’s Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport, has said Australians would be safer if more freight was moved by rail.
His research showed that moving 10 per cent more freight by rail would save 25 lives in Australia every year, and 100 serious injuries such as quadriplegia or brain damage. Yet, road freight is increasing while rail is decreasing.
However, road safety could be improved and highway traffic snarls decreased if trucks were limited to the left lane (right or slow lane in countries where they drive on the right side of the road).
Trucks, caravans, buses and towed vehicles are restricted to the “slow” lane in European autobahns and only allowed to pass in designated areas.
These passing areas are never on hills as it takes trucks longer to pass each other going up or down a hill.
How many times have you been stuck behind two trucks blocking both lanes?
This simple system of lane restriction would separate trucks from smaller traffic, particularly vulnerable motorcycles and would allow the rest of the traffic to move more smoothly without being hindered by trucks.
It’s not the only solution to the problem with trucks on our roads, but it’s a start.