Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Too fast

The lightest Chevy or GMC Suburban weighs in within spitting distance of three tons. The Suburban carrying Governor Jon Corzine clocked in at 91 mph just before the crash that left him critically injured. (The crash was caused, it turns out, as trucks ahead of the governor tried to get out of the way of the motorcade barrelling down on them. See this animation.)

What possible reason is there for a three-ton truck, with a ridiculously high center-of-gravity, being permitted to travel over 65 mph, much less over 90 mph? At high speeds, these ungainly trucks can't get out of their own way.

There are legitimate uses for heavy trucks -- hauling cargo, hauling people, towing. For the same reasons, there are legitimate reasons why heavy trucks have to have powerful engines. But, there are no reasons why heavy, powerful trucks have to be able to accelerate quickly or reach high top speeds.

Given modern technology -- traction control, stability control, engine management -- it would be trivially easy to limit truck acceleration and top speed. Let trucks have all the power necessary to provide their truckish functions, but constrain not-truck-appropriate uses of the power. (Actually, I'd make the restriction weight based. Over two tons, acceleration at the rate of a Prius and a top speed of 65. A wicked high tax if you want power and weight.)

My guess is that aspiring truck owners whose really don't need a truck would be turned off by the restrictions/tax and choose lighter, more fuel-efficient, and nimbler cars.

A win all around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The federal and state governments should also bring back the 55mph highway speed limit. 65mph was, as I recall, some 1990s "freedom" b.s. By now we all know, even casting safety aside and focusing only on pollution, that high speed limits are foolishly out of date.