Every now and then an idea comes along that is so stupid, so cretinous, that one has to check the date to ensure that an April Fool is not being committed. Thus Paul Maynard, a transport minister, has awarded an £8M contract to test lorry convoying on British motorways. Lorries are to travel in close convoys of three vehicles with the driver in the lead vehicle controlling the others via wireless technology. The rationale is fuel economy and the easing of congestion.
The major justification for this folly is fuel saving, since the lead vehicle ‘pushes the air out of the way’ for the others immediately behind it – the principle of slipstreaming. Undeniably a valid strategy, but how many motorists, I wonder, would be comfortable overtaking one of these convoys, knowing that a few feet away was 35 tons or so of juggernaut travelling at 60 mph with no driver at the wheel? The tragic events of last weekend show the dangers of cars and lorries coming into contact at speed.
Actually, Maynard has not thought this through. One does not need to control the steering by WiFi if the lead lorry tows the other two. Then, of course, motorists could be protected by making a sort of constraining track that the lorries ran along – together with barriers preventing cars crossing into them. Er, wait a minute, haven’t we just invented railway trains?
Container ships – see picture in previous blog – can carry up to 20,000 40 foot containers these days. A lorry convoy containing that many containers would stretch from London to Birmingham and beyond. Come on Maynard, engage the brain! Invest in the railways we already have and cease this insane nonsense.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs