Traffic jams and time

By Dean Smallwood on

On Sunday, my family and I were returning from a quick weekend getaway, and even though we weren’t speeding or driving recklessly, we kinda sorta needed to get back home at a certain time to keep a prearranged appointment. As luck seemingly always has it, we hit a major traffic jam on the interstate – I’m not sure what caused it, but it probably was an accident.

Anyway, as it turns out, the snarl wasn’t a big deal since we were near an exit, and we know the roads in our home state pretty well. So we moseyed along on the secondary roads until we crossed over the interstate again and saw the traffic was moving freely at that point. We lost a few minutes, but we still made our appointment.

I suppose many fleets and truckers encounter a similar scenario every day, perhaps several times a day, and they have to reconsider how to make it to their next destination on time – or as close to the time they can manage safely. A lot of rescheduling and apologies probably are necessary – especially if the truck isn’t able to negotiate the secondary roads as quickly or efficiently as a four-wheeler.

But the lost time in a driver’s day can never be recaptured, can it? I wonder how many hours-of-service hours are lost every day due to drivers sitting in logjams rapping their fingers on the steering wheel while waiting for traffic to loosen up.

It’d be nice if those 30-minute breaks could be taken while hanging out in stuck traffic doing nothing, but I guess the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration probably wouldn’t see it that way. But it’s nice to dream.

Dean Smallwood

Dean Smallwood is managing editor of Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive. He has more than two decades of journalism experience, with nearly half of that spent covering the transportation industry. Daytime Phone: 800-633-5953, ext. 1039

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