Is truck speed limit trial doomed?

Lower truck speed limit trialled on the Monash Freeway

The trial of a 90km/h speed limit for trucks on a section of the Melbourne Monash Freeway starting today (August 25, 2016) could be doomed to failure.

The above official animation video shows no benefit in traffic flow and even shows cars and motorcycles undertaking and making dangerous manoeuvres around trucks spread across the four-lane freeway.

A speed restriction without lane restriction is useless.

However, Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan says that won’t happen until a second trial phase which only involves banning trucks from the right hand lane. Trucks will still be spread dangerously across three lanes!

Consequently, the 18-month trial between Huntingdale and Jacksons roads simply won’t work.Lower truck speed limit trial on the Monash Freeway

While truck drivers and motorcycle riders share a kinship of the open road, there is also 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 can often be 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.

Research 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% 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 speed limited and restricted to the left lane (right or slow lane in countries where they drive on the right side of the road).

Lower truck speed limit trial on the Monash Freeway Autobahn
Trucks use the “slow” lane on the autobahn

Trucks, caravans, buses and towed vehicles are restricted to the “slow” lane in European autobahns and only allowed to pass in designated areas which are flat.

These passing areas are never on hills as it takes trucks a dangerously long time 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.

Unfortunately, the Monash Freeway trial is doomed to fail unless they also restrict trucks to the left lane and the second left lane only for passing.

10 Comments

  1. This trial may not be the entire answer, but something needs to be done to slow trucks down.
    Once upon a time trucks were slow and all the other traffic was moving faster.
    Now all other traffic has slowed down due to speed cameras. Most traffic is sitting on 100kmh according to their speedo, actual speed is a little lower due to designed in speedo inaccuracy. Trucks hog the right lane and never leave it, trying to sit on the maximum speed their speed limiter will allow and they will tailgate anyone in front of them trying to intimidate them to speed up or get out of the way.
    Take note of how close a truck driver will sit behind you on the freeway, then observe how they will react if you change lanes in front of them and leave a similar gap. Truck drivers are all dangerous and selfish hypocrits who are only doing their current job because they are not smart enough to get a better job doing something else.

  2. Restricting trucks to the left lanes will only work when, the average motorist realises that the “overtaking” lane for trucks will be the center lane (on a three lane freeway. This center lane is NOT the “slow” lane because trucks use it. They use it as a lane because they are out of the way of clowns who do not know how to enter a freeway, and they are also out of the “fast” lane. Too many average car drivers sit in the center lanes, travel below the speed limit, thus creating major problems for trucks trying to overtake. Until these clowns realise this, it will only cause frustrations. If you are travelling below the speed limit on a freeway STICK TO THE LEFT LANES!!!!

  3. It doesn’t work in Tasmania:
    P1 car drivers can never drive over –
    90km/h in 90km/h zones
    90km/h in 100km/h zones
    100 km/h in 110km/h zones
    All it does is stop you from driving at the legal speed limit when a restricted driver is in front of you on an impassable stretch of road. It’s going to make people cranky, and they’ll be doing even stupider stuff on the road (if that’s possible) to try to get around trucks. Slowing down doesn’t help on its own. Better training and education, and maybe taking licences from the worst offenders and gaoling those that are repeat offenders to discourage others might do something, but they haven’t really said why they are doing this, at this time, on this road.

  4. I was riding when trucks were restricted to 80kph. It was dangerous and many people died trying to overtake them. One state tried an even lower speed limit but the truckies defeated it by obeying it. Imagine 200 trucks travelling together at 70kph. It caused chaos. It became a lot safer to travel amongst trucks travelling at 100kph. less overtaking and now trucks are more powerful they can hold their speed better. It is far safer with all traffic travelling at the same speed. That means 100kph peed limit and more powerful trucks. (B-doubles have a min power limit and how often do you get held up for long behind a B-double on the open road.) As for caravans and horse floats, they should drive along the fire brake over near the fence.

  5. It drives me nuts on the bike when there is a truck in every lane beside each other knowing I could pass safely if there was at least one lane free of trucks. It happens regularly while I travel across on the Western Ring Rd, Westgate and Monash. I don’t think a reduction in the speed limit would help much at all. In fact, I think I could make things worse, but a restriction on lanes would be a huge improvement!!!

  6. If anything the trial would work better restricting the Trucks to the left lane / lanes in preference to a speed limit only , but yes to both straight away is a no brainer . As to rail and sea , how much money do Goverments make from rego , toll roads and fines not to mention the oil companies and there fuel infrastructure.

  7. Australia has to work on getting long haul freight off our roads, it really doesn’t make sense for freight going from Sydney to Perth to travel by truck when it could go either (a) by coastal ship or (b) by rail. The savings in congestion on our roads would be tremendous.
    The problem is the shortsightedness of politicians in Australia who haven’t invested in the railway system yet are willing to let trucks get bigger and bigger while these trucks cause devastation to taxpayer funded roads.
    Think of the benefits to car drivers and motorbike riders if they only had to contend with short haul trucks on our highways and not the b doubles and road trains chewing up our roads.

  8. Mate in Germany trucks are speed limited and have to travel in the slow (far right in Europe) lane to allow faster traffic to flow normally. Great idea… don’t know how it can work here without lane restriction to match the speed restriction.

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