It’s time to retire the truck

Trucks are a constant problem for traffic. We all know this. They are too big, too slow, too eager to jump between lanes and slow traffic. But perhaps one thing you don’t often think about: trucks are also too dangerous.

According to recent statistics found posted on the Amerio Law Firm site, there were 411,000 truck accidents in 2014. This, despite the fact there were only 3.4 million trucks on the road. That means 12 percent of trucks were involved in accidents in 2014. That means, further, that every time you see ten trucks on your commute to work, one of them has been in an accident that year.

When trucks are in accidents, they don’t tend to be fender benders. It’s difficult for trucks to do that little damage simply based on their size and velocity. So, when you think of those statistics, think about the damage each one of those 411,000 accidents caused, think about which one of those ten trucks you just saw caused one of those 411,000 accidents, and then be grateful you weren’t 411,001.

To me, the solution to all of this is obvious: we need to move beyond the era of trucks. Trucks have been a crucial part of our economy for decades, and we should be grateful for all they’ve done for us. They’ve helped build us into the mightiest, richest nation in the world. Trucks transferred the pieces that would become our weapons’ arsenal. They transferred the parts of our airplanes. They transferred every item in our local Walmart.

It is time, however, to retire the truck. For a long time, it was worth the risk on the road to achieve all those great positives, but that time has passed.

We still want all those great positives, of course, we just have better ways to achieve them. Here are two simple ways:

Reinvest in rail. Before trucks, trains carried all our goods. In many countries, trains still carry most of the goods. There’s no reason America can’t return to that system, other than an unwillingness to invest. Trains are far safer and far less likely to cause regular accidents. More rail lines might also allow for more pedestrian rail travel, which would get more cars off the road and speed up commutes. It’s a win on multiple levels.

Push for driverless trucks. This is the future, but we don’t want to have to wait so long for it. Many are theorizing we will have a large body of driverless trucks within the decade. Let’s invest now and push that down to within the next five years. Driverless trucks will make far fewer errors and will know to stay in their lanes and not clog up the road. They’d also be better for the environment since they’d be able to police their speed and fuel consumption better.

These are only two ideas, and there are much more to be had. The main point is this: trucks have been great for this country, but they are simply too dangerous. The 21st century deserves a safer means of mass transportation.