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Think outside your lane for better highways

column-govtThe worst accidents are when a car and a tractor-trailer collide. Can you begin to comprehend the mismatch? It’s like a sumo wrestler facing off against a toddler.

Or think about the motorcyclist riding behind a tractor-trailer that loses a retread (tire casing for worn tires). His bike may crash or flip if he hits that gigantic piece of rubber. The retread may lay on the highway for some time, until the gusts of wind caused by more tractor trailers blow it off.

Do you want an 87,000-pound tractor-trailer on the same road as your 2,500-pound Hyundai? Well, do you want a 747 airplane on the same runway as your Cessna? It’s worth some thought.

Say you do give it some thought. You’ll inevitably ask: What could we do? Airports have plenty of runways, but there’s only one interstate highway system.

If we care enough about safety, we will have to redesign that system. This new interstate-style road has earthen berms to separate the east- and west-bound divided lanes. The outer two sets of lanes are for tractor-trailers only. The inner two sets host automobile traffic.

The pros …

What are the advantages of this system? There are many:

  • Block noise pollution between lanes.
  • Block noise pollution from affecting the surrounding countryside.
  • Eliminate headlight pollution.
  • Contain hazmat spills.
  • Contain fires.
  • Eliminate crossover accidents.
  • Improve evacuation routes: You can easily reverse direction on any of the lanes to increase traffic flow away from a natural disaster.
  • Prevent rubbernecking: If you can’t see the accident in the next lane over, you won’t look at it.

… And the cons

What are the disadvantages?

  • Cost to build: Obviously, this infrastructure update would cost more than sticking with the status quo.
  • Crossing over: You would only be able to cross over and change direction at designated spots.
  • No billboards: Well, this is a disadvantage for the billboard companies; personally, I’d like it.
    Some metropolitan areas already have truck highways separate from auto highways: Interstate 5 and State Road 14 in the Los Angeles area are two examples. The state of Georgia is planning to spend $2 billion to build a 38-mile-long truck highway along Interstate 75. Extending this concept to other highways with substantial tractor-trailer traffic would reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.

Written by David Peel, special to the Express. Peel, a Millington-based attorney, seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. He can be reached through PeelLawFirm.com, where he also archives many other articles.

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