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Cheap gas and 100 mile per hour trucks

"You talk about fun, man," Jeffrey Ball quotes truck driver Gary Vann, reporting for the Wall Street Journal. Vann refers to the late 1990s, when gas was cheap and Vann could "hurtle down empty stretches of highway at 100 miles per hour," Ball writes.

In our opinion, if that type of driving behavior occurred then, it probably occurs now, and there's no doubt that speeding and other kinds of negligent truck driving leads to plenty of commercial truck accidents.

But, as Ball reports, truck drivers like Vann are being monitored by their employers. The reason? To contain costs due to the rise in fuel prices (there's no indication that the monitoring is being done for safety reasons, though that may be part of it).

Employers have installed black boxes that monitor location and speed in truck driver's trucks, as well as modified the governor, which is a device that puts a limit on how fast a truck can go. One truck driver, Terry Kelley, says he cannot go as far because he's limited by how fast he can drive, which hurts his income.

Kelley says, "It's like trying to eat a french fry with a hand over your mouth. It's not going to work."

And Ball writes, "The low-tech tools of the trade were catnip to rogue truckers," referring to the absence of black boxes, modified governors, and electronic onboard recorders. And one truck driver is explicit about the use of comic books, which are essentially falsified logbooks that do not indicate how overworked the driver is (leading to drowsy driving accidents).

"I used to have three log books. You could run anywhere you wanted to," the driver said.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Firms Put Brakes on Truckers," by Jeffrey Ball, 07/11/11

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