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Jim Kenzie on truck Speed limiters
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:31 am 
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http://www.wheels.ca/Columnists/article/515144

Make big trucks go slower and the roads will become safer.

Obvious, isn't it? It's also obvious when you look out the window that the world is flat.

Last Monday, truckers in Ontario tried to mount a convoy to Queen's Park to show their opposition to electronic speed limiters. These devices, electronic chips in trucks' engine management systems, restrict speeds to 105 km/h, and have been required in Ontario and Quebec since the start of the year.

The protest didn't draw anywhere near the numbers organizers had hoped for (only five trucks turned out), but the legislation stands as a classic case of a regulation being imposed by transportation officials who don't have Clue One about how traffic actually works in the Real World.

First, what's with a speed limiter that allows you to exceed the speed limit? Is there a speed limit or is there not?

Secondly, what transportation officials have yet to understand is that speed isn't a problem; speed is the objective. The whole point of superhighways is to increase speed.

If we weren't in a hurry, we'd have stayed with two-lane roads like the old Hwy. 2 between Windsor and Montreal.

Yes, we want to do it within as large a safety margin as possible, but we must understand that any motion involves a degree of risk. And we old-timers all remember how safe Hwy. 2 was ...

It's true without a doubt that trucks take a long time to stop. And they take a longer time to stop from a higher speed than they do from a lower speed. So do cars.

But stopping isn't usually the issue: running into other vehicles is the issue.

And any traffic analyst will tell you what any fluid dynamics engineer would tell you: that things flow more smoothly when that flow is "laminar" – when all or most of the components of the flow are running at roughly the same speed.

It's when you stick an obstruction in that flow – a slow-moving truck on the 401 – that you start to get turbulence and deterioration of that flow.

That's also when things start running into each other, and when those things happen to be trucks weighing upwards of 40,000 kg, you have a problem.

And the problem isn't whether that 40,000 kg thing is going 105 km/h or 120 km/h: it's whether it runs into something else or not.

If that 40,000 kg thing is going 120 km/h and that something else – a car, presumably – is also going 120 km/h, then there's nothing to run into.

But if the other object is going 105 km/h and the truck is going 120? Ker-bang!

So the objective of traffic management is to try to ensure that as many vehicles as possible are going as close to the same speed as possible.

The specific speed isn't as important as the fact that it be the same, or nearly so, for all vehicles.

Artificially limiting a subset of your flowing components to a speed that's 15 to 30 km/h slower than the other components of your flow is a recipe for disaster.


A recent study conducted for Transport Canada by the University of Waterloo concluded: "As the (traffic) volume is set close to capacity, more vehicle interactions take place and this leads to a reduction in safety, especially for those segments with increased merging and lane-change activity, such as on- and off-ramp segments."

Hmm ... does that sound like the 401 through the heart of the GTA?

Exactly.

"In these instances, the introduction of truck speed limiters can actually reduce the level of safety when compared to the non-limiter case."

Exactly.

Critics of the report say the university focused solely on divided highways, and didn't take two-lane roads into consideration. Um, what percentage of our truck traffic is on divided highways?

Exactly.

So far, only the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba have implemented the speed limiters.

These limiters also penalize local truckers when they carry loads to the U.S., because South Dakota truckers (for example) can deliver the goods sooner.

So, what should the government do? Whatever they can to ensure that traffic moves as smoothly as possible.

One of the most important things truckers need to make their passage as smooth and safe as possible is a proper, guaranteed passing lane. That's supposed to be the centre lane on the 401 (through the GTA, truckers are generally prohibited from driving in the left-most lane).

But that centre lane is usually clogged by slowpokes who are afraid of driving in the right-most lane (where logic, good manners and the Ontario Highway Traffic Act all require them to drive), because they are afraid (with no small justification) that it is going to disappear or turn into an off-ramp with little warning.

So OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino should get over his obsession with motion, and assign a few dozen of his minions to enforcing the laws we already have against people who hog the left- and middle-lanes. While he's at it, maybe he could use his considerable political clout to get the damned lane markings properly painted so the right lane doesn't keep disappearing.

If he did these things our traffic would flow faster, more smoothly, more safely and in a more fuel-efficient manner.

Our truckers could also drive at whatever speed they felt was safest and most efficient, and wouldn't be penalized when running into the U.S.

This could all start Monday morning, and be done within weeks.

Then we could start on roundabouts and make some real gains.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:37 am 
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This article makes a good point. Slower does not = safer.

The province never thought about the unintended consequences of this law. It's messing with the natural flow of traffic.

I like the fact he also points out about having our officers actually ticketing people who are clogging the 2 left lanes stopping TRUCKS & cars from passing.

Alot of people forget the middle lane is a passing lane for trucks.

Where the 400 series are 3 lanes this will be a disaster, people are going to be racing in and out of traffic. slower cars will get pushed to the left by the trucks and the people who speed on the left wont slow down. There is gonna be more aggressive driving and lane swerving.

Those right lanes aswell should not end! He is right alot of people hate the right lane cause everyone has to dodge into it. Along with those goofs that go onto a 400 series at 60 and take forever to get to 100.


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Re: Jim Kenzie on truck Speed limiters
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:46 am 
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tdrive2 wrote:
Then we could start on roundabouts and make some real gains.


Amen. That is all I can say about the completeness of the whole such statement.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:42 am 
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Does the HTA address how to use roundabouts? I have found nothing specific in the last few years. I don't think most people here even know how to use a multi-lane roundabout.

I love roundabouts and the Waterloo region has a lot of them. I'm not sure how to use them properly, though. I use the right hand lane and signal right if I am turning off at 90 degrees, right hand lane and signal left if turning off at 180 degrees (signal right before turning off), left lane and signal left if I am turning off at 270 degrees (also signal right after passing the 180 degree turn). Is that right? Few people signal when they turn out of the roundabout, and it makes trying to get into one a chore. I'm not going to risk the UK way of speeding into the roundabout and letting the people inside it worry about giving you room. :shock:

I'll stop the hijack now lest Bear tases me for terrorism. I hope the truck speed limiter experiment will give the province a better idea of whether the current 100 km/h speed limit is ideal. Maybe congestion won't increase other than slowing everyone else down to around 100-110 km/h. Or maybe what used to be a fluid highway will turn into a parking lot. If it turns out to be the latter case, I hope they don't just raise the top speed on the limiters but keep the speed limit the same - but that's my guess at what will eventually happen. The government is out to spite me. :cry:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:07 pm 
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Not sure what the "rules" are, but in Europe they signal "right" right before the turn they have to take. You need not signal getting on the roundabout, just signal "right" before the exit you exit at. Signalling "left" sends the wrong message, you might be turning "right" when you are flashing "left". Think of it for a second, it is like turning on a leftward bend of the road.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:25 pm 
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I did some searching, but I couldn't find the European country I learned the use of a left-turn signal from. I did find Ottawa's guidlines, which are simiar to mine except they recommend no signals while entering if you intend to go straight (180 degrees).

http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/onthemov ... se_en.html

My thinking is that you should signal to traffic in the circle that you intend to enter, same as you would signal from an on-ramp before entering traffic. Using a right hand signal is confusing to vehicles entering 90 degrees to the right of you, so I use the left turn signal when entering. It's not an arbitrary choice - think of it as "merging left" into the circle instead of turning right.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:58 pm 
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Here's my logic:

When you approach the roundabout, there is no way to avoid it (save for a U-Turn). All traffic is moving counterclockwise on the roundabout, therefore signalling left might give someone the wrong idea that you might try to run clockwise on the roundabout - similar to driving wrong way on a one-way road. Since the roundabout is technically the same street you were on, no signal is needed whe getting on the roundabout.

You may, however, take any of the (usually) 4 exits - to go (in relation to original driving direction) right, straigh, left, or back (U-Turn). Therefore I would signal indicating the exit I wish to take, which must be just after the previous exit.

IE making a left on a roundabout

Come up to roundabout
merge onto roundabout
pass 1-st exit (right)
pass 2-nd exit (straight)
turn on the right turn signal
exit on 3-rd exit (left)
kill the right turn signal.

Too bad that there is so much confusion about them. I have seen drivers go wrong way on a roundabout. Scary :twisted: :twisted:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:15 pm 
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When I am in the circle, I like to see incoming and exiting vehicles signal because it shows me that they are aware of what they are approaching and gives me a chance to adjust my speed to accomodate them (when I can).

Right now I have noticed that there are basically three types of people on the roundabouts. One type has never seen one before and they panic, sometimes even taking the circle too fast with jerky steering. Another type will figure it out and get through without too much trouble if the traffic is light. The last type are the ones who know roundabouts and possibly even drove them in Europe - the problem with these drivers are that different countries have different rules; in Germany, traffic entering the circle actually has right-of-way unless a special sign is erected at the entrance. It's too bad that we don't have a standard set of rules set forth in the HTA yet. I would love to see most of our stop signs replaced with roundabouts or yield signs. I don't think we're ready for roundabouts at larger intersections yet, but I like what they have in Stratford. At night the traffic lights basically turn off - the main road becomes flashing yellow, and the seldom used side streets get a flashing red.

We have one roundabout in Orillia, which is inside a shopping area. I don't think they trust us simple country people much, as they put stop signs at every roundabout entrance, defeating the entire purpose. :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:04 pm 
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The only roundabout I grew up with is a tiny one in front of the old coliseum in Stratford. It is single lane (but wide) so if someone is on it, you yield to them as you approach. On Sunday, I hit when in Hamilton and it had two marked lanes. So am I supposed to jump to the inside lane as soon as I enter? Then signal right, check my blind-spot, and merge back right when approaching my exit (just a few seconds later)? It struck me as rather dangerous to jump to the inside then back to the outside on such a small circle. I just stayed in the outside but felt like I was at risk of someone entering off a sidestreet without stopping.

I'll figure it out as I hit more of these things, but I don't have a good feel about them quite yet.

The issue with truck governors is when a truck passes a car, they don't have the ability to increase their speed and get back in safely. I ALWAYS pass fast, just in case oncoming traffic unexpectedly pops up from a shallow depression in the road. I have very little trust in the painted lines on the road. I have seen them as dashed lines very close to the crest of a hill, and way too close to a curve in the road. If I ever lose my car to a stunt charge, it'll likely be while passing. But I made a point (months ago) of setting aside a separate bank account to cover just such an occurrence. I'm sure that money would have been better appreciated by the general public if I were out spending it and thereby boosting the economy. But hoarding has become my new strategy to fight goofy stunt law legislation. Wifey can drive me around for a week. I just bought her a Mustang, so she won't bellyache too much, LOL.

Oops!! Way off topic!!

:Stop:


Last edited by Bookm on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:17 pm 
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From my understanding, you keep to the outside lanes when turning right (90 degrees). You can choose to skip to the inside or stay outside if going straight (180 degrees). You should go to the inside lane and then back out again if you are turning left (270 degrees) or making a U-turn (360 degrees).

Waterloo's guidelines match up with Ottawa's guidelines, so I'm guessing the cities which support and build roundabouts have come up with some unofficial rules - probably the same rules which will eventually be added to the HTA. They cover which lanes to use and when to use them; you can read them here:
http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/onthemov ... se_en.html

Or watch Waterloo's Flash demo:
http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/web/re ... _use2.html

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