The huge five-axle truck hauling gravel down East Mercer Way last week could not negotiate a curve in the 4700 block of the snake-like byway after its driver swerved to avoid an oncoming car. The truck carved a wide gash into the slope next to the roadway, and the trailer it was pulling overturned with a boom heard blocks away. It then skidded along the pavement, spilling gravel everywhere. Miraculously, the truck did not roll down an embankment and land on a house. No one was hurt.
Large trucks that deliver goods to our grocery stores, haul crops to ships and pull machinery are necessary to our 21st century life. But the increased size of these vehicles represents some serious risk.
Not only on the freeway but in our Town Center, or along Island Crest Way, we can find ourselves often cheek by jowl with these giant machines with loads that can weigh several tons.
To be fair, transportation companies use larger vehicles to take advantage of the economies of scale gained from pulling larger loads. Larger trucks also help mitigate higher fuel and labor costs and help keep the cost of goods for consumers low.
But of course, there are disadvantages. There is no doubt that these ‘super-sized’ vehicles are not very maneuverable. Large trucks that deliver to Island stores block streets and parking lots when they unload. They often break curbs, lightposts and trees as they maneuver into narrow lanes or make wide turns.
And it is not just businesses that need large trucks to make deliveries. Construction jobs, such as the work by the city to repair and build larger shoulders along East Mercer Way, need trucks to deliver paving materials and haul away debris. Loads of lumber, or even steel, needed for new homes are delivered by larger and longer trucks.
Should there be more regulation? Yes. Should the city say that large trucks at least along East and West Mercer Ways be limited in length or weight? Yes. Should such vehicles have an escort to warn oncoming traffic? Yes. More rules are always a hassle and end up costing time and money.
But in the long run, such steps may save lives.