There are many policy-makers who trust their data and researchers to conclude that something is a good idea. One such good idea was the limiting of truck speeds in Ontario to just over 100 km/h.
That seemed fine because these trucks could be used as road blocks to slow down traffic, particularly on expressways such as Highway 401. There would be less need to send police onto this busy expressway as many serious rear-end impacts have occurred when police make a traffic stop. The fact that speeders might run into the back of a slow truck would also be OK because it would be the speeder who would lose their life or limb and not the slow trucker – or so could be the logic. The additional chaos that might be created as large differences in vehicle speeds became created would be difficult to prove and there would be no need generated to do something about it. Certainly police reports would not high-light the fact that this chaos would exist and this would not reach the traffic data or the analysts who advice the policy-makers. The only fact that would exist is that major rear-end collisions would keep occurring and this could be blamed on irresponsible drivers who were distracted. Truck drivers would be easy targets because they are the ones who would have the greatest difficulty in slowing down when traffic chaos exists.
Certainly the trucker is at fault in many instances but is that the only factor? As an analogy, for many early years there were many machines that cut or crushed material that were fed by an operator who would push the material onto some kind of conveyor belt which would drag the material into the compartment where the cutting and crushing would occur. The obvious advisement to those machine operators was “don’t stick your hand into the crushing/cutting compartment!”. Well, yes, that would seem to be sage advice. But in the environment where the worker is conducting this feeding process repeatedly over many days and months something unintended eventually happens. The worker reaches too far, the worker’s clothing gets caught on a conveyor belt… and so on. And for many years it was deemed to be a worker’s fault. Not paying enough attention. Not until later were various safety devices installed to prevent workers from being dragged into cutting and crushing devices and these accidents were greatly diminished. Is there not a parallel here with the traffic scenario?
Yes, drivers become drowsy and inattentive when subjected to a long time of the mundane task of driving, but is there no way of creating safeguards, much like the crushing/cutting scenario, where persons who make simple mistakes do not have to pay for them with their lives? Limiting truck speeds can be dangerous in some situations where truck drivers get into a situation that requires an immediate and drastic evasive action to avoid disaster. When we take away that driver’s ability to take that evasive action is that no different than removing the safeguards that keep the non-attentive machine operator from being cut or crushed to death? Also, when a heavy truck is involved in a collision it is not always the drowsy truck driver who pays the price, it could be many other innocent drivers in that truck’s vicinity.