O Great Mahatma: I am a driver of a regular car on Interstate 40 to and from Memphis. Your recent column about truck traffic on this highway kept running through my mind while I was behind a convoy of trucks in both lanes. I wondered what would happen if all the trucks of 24 hours were on I-40 at the same time, and did some work on scratch paper. My conclusion is that I-40 is an 18-wheeler parking lot. -- Harvey
Dear Harvey: To the best of our memory, you are the first Harvey to make this column over its 14-year run. Congratulations.
Now to the matter at hand, the fact that commercial truck traffic now exceeds passenger vehicle traffic on Interstate 40 from Little Rock to Memphis, based on figures from the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
You did the math to answer this question: What if all the trucks over an average 24-hour span were on this roadway at the same time? Frankly, we would never have thought of this. You, sir, are a genius.
An 18-wheeler is 80 feet long. Multiply that times 21,090 trucks (as counted at Lonoke) for 1,687,200 feet. Divide by 5,280 feet in a mile and that's 319.5 miles of trucks nose to rear. Since Little Rock to Memphis is 137 miles that means two lanes in one direction would be completely full, and a lane in the other direction would have 45.5 miles of trucks.
Presumably, the empty lane would be the fast lane.
This provides context to the matter of truck traffic on I-40. It also reminds us of a bumper sticker we once saw on an 18-wheeler that went something like this: "Trucks move stuff. Don't like trucks? Don't buy stuff."
Since consumer spending makes up about two-thirds of the national gross domestic product, it's unlikely people will soon stop buying stuff that's hauled in trucks.
Dear Mahatma: My sister Fran and I were driving south on Interstate 430 when she glanced in the rear view mirror and saw this! Rear doors wide open, a couple of young children on the back seats holding down some oversized something! I have no idea how this ended because we were exiting. -- Anne
Dear Anne: Thank you for the photo. We see the rear doors are indeed wide open to accommodate the kids and the stuff. This is similar to the photo recently sent to us of a sedan with a rolled-up carpet in the back, one end sticking out the left rear window, the other sticking out the right.
Where to start? Careless and prohibited driving ... children must be buckled in ... obstructing the view of the driver ... child endangerment, which essentially means creating a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to a minor.
OMG, Anne and Fran! Did you call 911 to tell the Arkansas State Police about this?
Metro on 09/14/2019