Long Combination Vehicles – A Tale of Two Trailers
LCVs, Safety, & Opinions
Ask anyone who drives North America’s highways and they will likely have an opinion, often a strong one, about Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs). The general public, Transport Canada, truck drivers, trucking companies; everyone has an opinion – informed or otherwise.
At the end of the day, those of us who live, work and drive in this big, beautiful nation of Canada entrust ourselves to the laws of the land. These laws are here to protect us and help maintain law and order. Not everyone agrees with said laws regarding Long Combination Vehicles. Some people think LCVs are downright dangerous.
What constitutes “dangerous”?
Is this opinion subjective or empirical?
How safe are Long Combination Vehicles – really?
Public Perception of LCVs
Long Combination Vehicles have been the subject of much study. There is more statistical analysis available online than the average person could hope to wade through. One such technical report was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and authored by the National Center for Freight & Infrastructure Research & Education, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison (principal investigator: Teresa Adams, PhD). This 2012 report, entitled “Longer Combination Vehicles: An Estimation of their Benefits and Public Perception of their Use”, examines such issues as safety, cost and benefits, public perception, as well as environmental matters.
A detailed questionnaire was sent to various groups, organizations and individuals. Using the results of the survey, the research team was able to compile statistically relevant data upon which to base their report. While the study was conducted in the U.S., there are enough similarities in the geography, culture and highway systems that the content of the report is both relevant and informative for Canadian drivers of passenger vehicles, truck drivers and supply-chain management companies. One outstanding component of this particular report, which many other reports don’t seem to address, surrounds the issue of negative psychology.
Feelings, Fear & LCVs
Chapter 5, “Public Opinion on the Benefits and Impacts of LCVs”, discusses several issues, but the feedback regarding “level of safety” and “chance of auto & LCV crash compared to auto & semi truck crash” was interesting because it strikes at the very heart of the issue with regard to public perception. These categories deal, in part, with the emotion of fear. It is human nature for people to be afraid of that which they don’t understand or have experience with. People in the study were more biased against the LCVs if they lived/drove in an area where LCVs were not allowed (or if drivers surveyed didn’t have experience driving in an area where LCVs were used).
Fear is a very powerful emotion. Marketing firms use fear regularly in their campaigns because it is so effective. And it is important to bear in mind that, one can be afraid of something that isn’t true or real, yet the fear itself is true and real. Negative psychology is highly impactful and can be problematic for “Joe and Jane Commuter” just as much as it can affect transportation companies utilizing LCVs – albeit in a different way. If LCVs are negatively perceived in the eyes of citizens, trucking companies that make use of LCVs have a strike against them based solely on appearances. Neither the actual safety of LCVs, nor the company’s safe driving record has any bearing on the matter. The company must fight negative stigma brought on by negative emotions. And “Joe or Jane’s” driving behaviour may be impaired due to anxiety. Life-controlling phobias aside, we are all capable of overcoming preconceived notions through education and information. In Part 2 of “Long Combination Vehicles – A Tale of Two Trailers”, we will look at how education can create a more informed public and address the “fear factor” sometimes associated with LCVs.
Rig Logistics is an asset-based private carrier based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Please contact us if you are interested in driving for a carrier who is in it for the long haul, or if you are in need of reliable supply-chain solutions.
 Longer Combination Vehicles: An Estimation of their Benefits and Public Perception of their Use
(National Center for Freight & Infrastructure Research & Education, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison. March 2012. Principal investigator: Teresa Adams, PhD)