It is frost-heave season once again - those nasty old bumps that seem to come out of nowhere only to disappear again a month or two down the road.Recently I was traveling at a high rate of fuel consum...
It is frost-heave season once again – those nasty old bumps that seem to come out of nowhere only to disappear again a month or two down the road.
Recently I was traveling at a high rate of fuel consumption, serenading the windshield with one of my many favorite songs (out of tune, of course).
When I regained consciousness, I was crumpled on the passenger side floor, getting a first-hand look at how desperately it needed cleaning with my nifty little broom.
I picked myself up, shook off the dust, combed my hair and made my way back to the driver’s seat, all while picking the road salt lodged between my teeth.
There are advantages to incidents like that bump though: it once again rudely reminded me of the federal Liberals’ blatant lack of a national highway strategy.
As most professional drivers in Canada would agree, when compared to our neighbors to the south, our national highway system is a shambles. It is high time we Canadians insist that our federal government develop a national plan and invest some serious coin into the project. A national highway program is necessary for many reasons.
There has been a debate raging for quite some time within this industry concerning fatigue. Noticeably absent from this discussion is the impact of inferior highways on those who turn the wheels for a living.
I know from personal experience that driving across northern Ontario is much more tiring than driving twice that distance across I-90.
Indirectly related to this fatigue issue, is the number of casualties and fatalities caused each year by poor highways. One has to wonder, how many accidents result from terrible roads? Could they have been avoided with a better highway system?
Fortunately, governments are not immune to the consequences of this neglect.
Recently, the Saskatchewan government was held liable for bodily injury and property damage resulting from a crash on its ill-maintained highways. However, I would sooner have my tax dollars go towards building highways then go towards a health-care system tending to injured motorists. Or settling lawsuits, for that matter.
Load security is another safety issue related to the state of our roads. When a truck is bucking and twisting over rough roads, loads, especially those on flatbeds, are more prone to loosen.
One has to wonder whether or not road conditions had anything to do the highly publicized incidents of trucks losing wheels a few years back.
Beyond safety, there are other important issues that are influenced by poor highways.
As a Canadian owner/operator, it is irritating to spend thousands of dollars on fuel and road taxes annually, knowing that little money ever finds its way back to the highways.
Since none of my taxes go towards what they should, I am required to allocate even more funds towards maintenance than I would otherwise need to.
However, the whole Canadian industry is affected by poor highways and compensates for them, often by driving through the road-friendly U.S. As a result, much of the Canadian trucking dollar is spent supporting U.S. businesses, unnecessarily. With all the hype recently about a downturn in the North American economy, what better way to fend off a national recession than to spend a considerable sum of money, in all areas of Canada, on something that is in desperate need of federal help?
Simply put, an improved highway system would help the economy.
It is no coincidence that the U.S. has the best road system in the world, and the strongest economy. n
– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and a monthly contributor toTruck News.