Posted by: bridget | 11 December 2006

Trucking Regulations

The Bush Administration has worked to deregulate the trucking industry and to loosen standards for truckers.  Liberals have several complaints:

  • The death rate for truck accidents is twice the death rate for car-car accidents.
  • The trucking lobby gave campaign contributions to Republicans. 
  • The FMCSA has failed to meet its targets for decreasing accident fatalities.
  • There are more trucker deaths than airline deaths every year.

Analysing this ridiculousness:

1) A truck weighs approximately 80,000 lbs.  A car weighs approximately 2,500 lbs.  Ergo, a truck hits an automobile with 35 times the momentum that a car would hit that automobile.  We could equalize momentum of cars and trucks, but that would involve making trucks travel at approximately 1/6th the speed of automobilies (momentum = 1/2 m*v^2), or about 10 mph on highways.   For those of us who don’t want it to take a month to move agricultural products cross-country, we should accept the fact that we can’t legislate away the laws of physics.

2) The pachyderm gives an elephant snort to the idea that there is something sinister about people giving money to a political party that will benefit them, especially when the livelihood of middle America is on the line.  (The NY Times will never criticise Emily’s List, although unborn children – the affected parties in question – are hardly able to make campaign contributions to pro-lifers.) 

3)  Fatalities are decreasing.  While the roads are more congested every year, the trucking industry is decreasing its fatality rate.  It just isn’t decreasing it fast enough to suit those who would like their food to magically transport itself from the heartland to New York City.

4)  Driving is more dangerous than flying, even without trucks on the road.  In 2004, there were 42,000 motor vehicle deaths (occupants, pedestrians, and motorcyclists) and 2.78 million people were injured in car crashes.  Drivers over the age of 74 represent 6.4% of drivers but 8.4% of all accidents.  So should we ban older drivers, too? 

Even the uber-libertarian pachyderm does not think that truck drivers should be exempt from regulation.  However, when the problems with the trucking industry stem from high turnover and low pay, it is foolish to expect the accident rate to decrease when the industry is only made more unfriendly towards working-class Americans.

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