Archive for Trucks

Self-Driving Lorries – Yes or No!

Posted in America, Britain, Demonstration, England, Europe, Modern World, News, Police, Traffic, UK with tags , , , , on 21/08/2014 by floroy1942

I have just read a report that the United Kingdom is to trial self-driving trucks next year, and from what I read I can see a lot of confusion on the roads if this becomes a reality.

How It Works

How It Works

The plan is for a fleet of trucks to drive a few feet apart on our roads, all being controlled by the driver in the lead vehicle. Information will be passed from truck to truck via WiFi signals, infra-red cameras and lasers.

What for example would happen if  they lose the WiFi signal or experience interference that suddenly disrupts the signal? You know it happens because you have probably experienced it with your computer.

This idea may sound fine until you look into the logistics of it. From my perspective, I see the possibility of mass chaos on our roads in such an event.

Try Passing This Lot

Try Passing This Lot

Can you imagine the problems of passing say, ten trucks all driving a few feet apart and you want to overtake? Maybe not such a problem on motorways, but what about on normal roads? What will happen to the convoy when it comes to a round-a-bout? What will happen if the convoy has to go through a town?

All the trucks in the convoy are totally reliant on the driving skills of the lead driver, so it would take an exceptional driver to take responsibility for every vehicle in the convoy.

Confusing!

Confusing!

I can well imagine the Police having a dilemma too if the lead driver is caught speeding. Do they issue a ticket only to the lead driver, or to each one in the convoy, because basically they are all speeding.

Just as an aside, I wonder how the insurance companies will handle claims if an accident happens? Will the lead driver’s insurance cover all the vehicles because he is ‘in charge’. I doubt it. I can see a lot of squabbling going on between the companies as they try to sort out who is responsible for what!

It may sound like a good idea, but I can see it being fraught with problems, especially for other road users. I can just imagine the frustration of driving behind such a convoy, wanting to overtake but not being able to. This situation usually leads to accidents when someone takes a chance and tries to force their way past.

UK Roundabout Chaos

UK Roundabout Chaos

You can be sure there will be confusion at round-a-bouts when the convoy gets broken up because trucks have to give way to others with priority. The same can be said if they have to travel through a town.

Britain is not like America where you can drive for several hundred miles between cities on scarcely populated roads. With the exception of the motorways, roads in Britain are crowded, narrow, twisty and with populated areas every few miles. So in my view, such a thing is impractical in Britain.

Another big problem I see with such an idea is traffic safety. The driver of the lead vehicle must make decisions for the whole convoy, and naturally his mind is occupied. The following drivers however will have nothing to do because their vehicle is under his control. The situation will result in these drivers perhaps doing paperwork, gazing out the window or even falling asleep, especially at night.

And In An Emergency The Response Time Is.........?

And In An Emergency The Response Time Is………?

So what happens when a frustrated car driver trying to overtake the column, is forced by an on-coming car to pull into the few scant feet between two following vehicles? The mind of any driver must be ‘on the road’ at all times, otherwise accidents are inevitable. Driving a truck from London to Glasgow is tiring for anyone, but to be sat behind the wheel with nothing to do makes the problem ten times worse.

Looking at this idea from a global perspective, I can well see that it would work in Europe for trucks travelling from e.g. Calais in France to Madrid in Spain, or from Eastern Europe to the west, for these vehicles travel perhaps a thousand kilometres or more, and mainly on motorways.

The world today has more than it’s fair share of bad drivers, but to take away control of a heavy goods vehicle from the driver on English roads is to me a recipe for disaster.

Truck Rail – A Way to Beat Congestion?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Traffic, Travel with tags , , , , , on 05/12/2009 by floroy1942


It really doesn’t matter which country you are in, roads everywhere are clogged with traffic, and it will only get worse. So what can we do about it?

I have seen the ever growing number of heavy goods vehicles on the roads, and because of their mass and speed limit of 80kph they are constantly holding up traffic on the major arteries of the  world’s road networks.

I do not blame the majority of drivers for they can do little about it, although there is an increasing number of ‘cowboys’ who have no thought for other road users.

The trucks have got bigger with much heavier loads over the past two decades, resulting in heavy goods vehicles being responsible for the majority of resurfacing work carried out in both town and country.

It costs local authorities billions every year to keep the roads in a safe condition, and the life expectancy is small before they have to do it again. Nobody wants to drive on roads with holes or indentations caused by heavy trucks.

Why should it be necessary for a truck to move goods from New York to California, from Quebec to Vancouver or from Lisbon to Warsaw? Some journeys take days, some a week, and it can be done in a much shorter time at less risk to the environment.

The answer perhaps is to get as many heavy vehicles off the road onto an alternative form of long distance transport.

While driving through Austria one day I saw a train pulling flatcars loaded with trucks, and I thought at the time, what a brilliant idea. In many European countries, the rail network shuts down at night, I am thinking of, for example, Holland where all train activity ceases at 01.00hrs until 06.00hrs the following morning. There are many countries that do this, so why not use the night hours to transport trucks?

Any goods vehicle that needs to travel more than, lets say 100km, could be loaded onto a train at specific depots and transported at night to a place near its destination.

Travelling between Holland and Spain in the past I saw countless trucks thundering down the motorways day and night. Sometimes convoys of ten or fifteen vehicles. They were all travelling between North and Eastern Europe and Spain, Portugal, and the south of France. I saw trucks from all over Europe, Sweden, Latvia, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, you name it. Of course it was the same going North too.

So what if all these trucks travelled by rail? Why should a truck from Poland not be carried by rail to say Madrid if that is his destination? Imagine a single train moving thirty or forty goods vehicles at a time from Poland to Spain. It is quicker, and could be a lot cheaper than by road with the cooperation of the rail companies.

In the long term, it would be advisable for local authorities to invest in such a scheme using the billions they save in road repairs. I am sure trucking companies could reduce their overheads ‘Going By Rail’.

Imagine the affect on the environment with the removal of the majority of long distance trucks from the European and North American road networks. The World’s politicians are arguing over CO2 cuts to stop global warming, and all the while this scheme could make a major contribution. Makes you think doesn’t it!

It will mean major investment on the part of all countries concerned, and a lot of international cooperation, but that doesn’t make it impossible!

The basic infrastructure is already in existance, but would require some investment  in flatbed rail cars and perhaps making changes to some of the goods depots to allow for the truck traffic. Timetables would need to be generated for ‘short haul’ and ‘long haul’, but that is a matter of an international group of people working them out. After all, it’s not rocket science! Using the existing rail network across, say Europe, thousands of trucks could be moved across the continent in a single night.

I am of course aware that this system would not work for all countries, but in the congested West it would certainly be of great value. I do not know how bad things will need to get before someone thinks of putting such a plan into action, but I hope it doesn’t take too long.

I will not live to see the day, but I hope you do!

Roy.

%d bloggers like this: