Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Need For Speed!

Proof positive that us Texans are bat-shit crazy about our right to kill ourselves with excess speed!

I’m just on the outskirts of Estilline where the eastern end of Texas-86 dead-ends at US-287. Forty miles west of here is Quitaque. In between is two lanes of twisting state road threading between ranches and cotton fields as it tracks along an un-named ridge. (on the south side of the road water drains to the North Pease River and on the north to the Little Red River)

Bob Wills’ tour bus at sunrise

Thirty miles in, offering a temporary respite from the blistering speed, is the town of Turkey, population 421, home town of Bob Wills – king of country swing.

From here it’s another 10 miles to Quitaque, (kit-a-kway) population 411, home town of Jimmy Ross – President of Lions Club International 2006-2007. No, I’m serous! As you come into town from the west there’s a big sign saying so.

Halfway in between Turkey and Quitaque is an unmapped place called Valley View, home of Valley School, which is shared by the two towns plus an unincorporated area, (Flomot, population 181) all spread out across three different counties.  Next to Valley School is the Valley View Drive-in movie theater. The sign says ‘closed for winter’, but I’m not sure how many years ago now that was. . .

So what?

Well Quitaque is 4 miles south of Caprock Canyons State Park and more on that in future posts,

Estimating off the white line, which by Federal mandate is 10' long, (Who says the government never did anything for us?) the driver taking this photo is, if I'm being generous, about 90 feet behind the truck. At 55.5 mph the proper following distance of 2 seconds is 162.8 feet. Now who's the bad driver?

but as long as we’re on the subject of speed, (or at least I am.) there’s been some grumbling on forums and blogs lately about slow trucks passing slower trucks and inconveniencing other drivers who want to go even faster, and this image has been bandied about to illustrate the point

I actually question that the numbers pasted into the image are realistic since many of the big trucking companies, including Schneider there on the right,  govern their fleet trucks at 62 MPH while owner-operators, which carry their own liability insurance, contracted to the carrier are often governed at 65 MPH. (These are not arbitrary speeds but rather are derived from hundreds of millions of miles worth of data that’s been crunched down to optimum delivery times verses operating cost, safety, and equipment wear-and-tear. Maybe the rest of us should sit up and take notice?)

Being one of those laid-back drivers that doesn’t mind slowing down (On Texas-86 I ended up behind an old travel-trailer recently pulled out of the weeds and doing no more than 55 lest it fall apart on one of the turns. Rather than go through the stress and risk of passing on a twisting 2-lane so I could get back up to my usual 60 to 65, I just sat back and relaxed for the next 20 miles.) I got to wondering what the real, rather than the perceived, effects of road-speed are. 

For a typical scenario on a Texas freeway I took truck A doing 62 and truck B coming up behind doing 65. The speed difference amounts to truck B covering 264 feet per minute more than truck A. If truck B pulls out to pass when a truck and a half length behind truck A, about 113 feet between front bumper and back of trailer, and moves back over when the rear of the trailer is a truck and a half length ahead of truck A, that’s a total difference of 375 feet truck B has to make up out there in the passing lane, which, given the difference in the speed of the two trucks will take 1.42 minutes. If during that 1.42 minutes, speedy-car, running at 75 MPH and coming up behind truck B at the exact moment truck B pulls out to pass, will lose a whole 1250 feet of forward progress compared to spending the same 1.42 minutes doing 75 MPH. Barring any other such incidents, at the end of one hour speedy-car, assuming speedy-car sticks to the 75 MPH speed limit the rest of the time, will have covered 74.76326 miles instead of the 75 the driver was hoping for. That difference of 0.236742 miles cost the driver a whole 11.55303 seconds.

Oh boo-hoo!! It takes most of us longer than that to fish our credit-card out after the checker has rung us up. (I swear, a lot of us act as if having to actually pay at the check-out comes as a surprise every time!)

11.5 seconds is also the time it takes to do a pretty decent 100 yard dash, but of course, being American, speedy-car’s driver is 20 to 30 pounds overweight and hasn’t done anything more strenuous in the past 5 years than a quick shuffle from couch to fridge and back during a commercial break so couldn’t run for 100 yards all in one shot at any speed.  . .

But let’s make the whole thing worse and say truck B was doing 63 to truck A’s 62. Then it takes a whopping 4.261364 minutes to make the pass and at the end of the hour speedy-car is 41.59091 seconds behind. My question is just what the hell is so important that 42 seconds, less than the time it takes to watch just one more commercial on TV, is worth getting riled up about???

Unthinking shit like that riles me up!


  1. Yep, you pretty much nailed it. Then, when I settle in at a safe following distance, somebody with a death wish will pass me and slide in between me and the truck--all with the goal to get nowhere fast.

    1. Sometimes it seems like you need to put it in reverse just to maintain a safe following distance!