Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trucks In The Left Lane

I work in the freight and shipping bidness, and one of the recurring gripes that I hear from drivers has to do with the signs shown above.
The left lanes of Fort Worth's Interstate-30 were closed off to "trucks" a couple of years ago. This was supposedly done to improve traffic flow.

But, as one of my mentors recently told me, "if you ain't got the data, the chatter don't matter".
Words to live by.

Does this restriction make a demonstrable difference?

According to a study presented in (ahem) College Station, TX.... completed at a cost of $960,000.00..... and this doesn't include the cost of the signs or their installation....traffic has averaged a 1/2 mile per hour improvement.

Interstate 20 and Interstate 30 both got the signs and restrictions, and the data from both highways is lumped together as one number in the presentation.

Why? I'm betting that one of the highways had a meaningful improvement in speed, and the other one stayed the same or even declined.

But lets look at the methodology for a moment. The study compares what they call Phase 1 (August) to a similar time period in Phase 4 (January/February). Can anyone else in the trucking business (I don't want to be the spoiler) let us know how much difference there is in freight volume between August and January/February?

We're not comparing apples to apples, or even apples to coconuts. It might not even be apples to alligators. It's huge.

And a 1/2 mile per hour improvement? (Unless I'm mistaken, the decimals are rounded upward from here to here.) I think we're looking at static, white noise, and dissimilar time periods. These numbers aren't significant enough, in my opinion, to show us anything outside the margin of error.

Who is more likely to hop onto an interstate highway for just a few miles? The guy in a two-door compact, or the long-haul trucker? The left lane should be for those who are just passing through. Those going from exit to exit for a few miles should be in the right lanes. And they don't need 18-wheelers in their way.

Photo from Flikr

6 comments:

Pete Wann said...

Those "Left lane laws" always made me wonder if the lawmaker who thought it up had never heard of inertia. What sense does it make to require the vehicles most likely to be just passing through to be in the most constantly changing lanes of the freeway?

One of the reasons I hear when they were debating this was "safety!" Again, how safe is it to mix up cars entering the freeway too slowly or too fast with trucks that take so long to come to a complete stop or to speed up or slow down?

That's like 5th grade science stuff!

Glenn said...

Once again WS you point out things that I haven't really thought about. Excellent.

zbethwalker said...

zbeth says:
I am only one of those slow drivers in the right hand who is regularly honked at by the majority of drivers.
I don't understand why trucks are not forced, yes forced, to use the left hand lane.
All the fast drivers are honking at me who is driving at speed limit in right hand lane. Other three lanes are empty. I don't understand.

sandersonmom said...

Wouldn't it be just as safe to have the trucks use the middle lane? That way they wouldn't impede on oncoming traffic entering the highway and the left lane faster traffic?
Just a thought. But then again I am an Okie who comes from a state where all the 'number streets' go East and West and the 'named streets' go North and South...

fembuttx said...

I like it how it is. All of the slow freakin poke cars with handicap stickers or vote for Jesse Jackson are in the far left lane (the hammer lane) going 52 mother freakin miles per hour. Then you got a dumb ass texting someone on his cell phone right next to him. Then on the inside right lane there is a crazy cow putting on her mascara!! I even saw an ass reading a book once!!

Then the complete idiots switch from the left lane to exit right in a 50 foot span....I think that all 50 year old men drive the Ford Ranger. (They have Bush 2004 stickers on them). I am so sick and tired of them whipping in out of lanes and then hitting their brakes and giving you the finger because apparently they do own the road!!

Yeah lets keep big trucks in the far right lanes....They are safer there.....

Anonymous said...

I'm a trucker...and I fully agree with WS's comments...
But...I do have one question....
How long have you been in the "bidness"? hehe