Trucks on the Capital Beltway are a problem. But trucks cannot and should not be prohibited from the Beltway. It would be economic folly.
Obviously, the most aggravating conditions are caused by tractor-trailer units. Corrective approaches should therefore be focused on them.
The primary problem has to do with the immense size of the trucks. Maximum operating control cannot be maintained by the most experienced drivers at freeway speeds when confronted with the congested conditions of the Beltway.
I am convinced that my recommendation of a year ago would materially alleviate if not totally eliminate the accidents involving tractor-trailers: there is no logical reason for these vehicles to travel in any other than the entering and exiting right-hand lane and at any more than 40 miles per hour. The operator can be more assured of complete control when facing an emergency at the reduced speed. Changing lanes should be prohibited.
This proposal would add about eight minutes for every 33 miles traveled, but that is certainly a small price to pay for the potential economic and life-saving advantages of a safe Beltway.
-- Arthur E. Morrissette
The writer is president of Interstate Van Lines, Inc., in Springfield. Maybe the answer to traffic problems on the Capital Beltway isn't so difficult after all. I drive the Beltway five days a week in a tractor-trailer, and I have had plenty of opportunity to watch car drivers and truck drivers alike.
First, the problems:
*There are too many vehicles on the Beltway and too many drivers who speed and tailgate.
*Many switch lanes too often and even try to back off a wrong exit.
*Rush-hour drivers are impatient, driving on the shoulders and cutting into lanes.
*Often drivers don't plan for speed differences at merges and exits.
I drive to avoid these situations and have been quite successful at it. In 27 years and 2 million miles of truck driving, I haven't had an accident or a traffic ticket.
The answer is a better attitude, respect for others and plain, old courtesy. A lot of folks have forgotten the safety rules they learned when they got their driver's licenses. Truck drivers are often highly trained, but I think truck driver school should concentrate more on attitude and respect.
-- John Chamberlain