I’m sitting in a lawn chair out back of The Hampton Inn in Painted Post, NY state; right by exit 43.
Through a gap in the hedge I watch the traffic roar by at 6 p.m. Thursday August 25th 2011.
There’s a silence, then a growing roar as a semi-trailer approaches, flashes past me, and disappears up or down the highway. Cars and FedEx vans scoot by in the turbulence. Silence descends for another ten seconds.
I decide to log how many cars are on the highway compared to trucks.
The figures above represent the count of smaller vehicles between each prime mover. Thus, a large truck passed, then 23 cars went by before the next truck, then 7 cars went by before the next truck, and so on.
Now I need to be more precise in my definitions:
I’m counting engines-under-power. It isn’t a car or a truck if it is piggy-backed on a truck, or towed behind a camper-van or RV. Only vehicles that are supplying motive power are counted.
I define a “truck” as “any powered vehicle capable of towing a load of 53-feet or more”, so most of the heavy 18-wheelers are trucks. I include an empty flat-bed looking for a back-hoe as a load, and I include a couple of bob-tails looking for trailers to hitch up.
At 6 p.m. Thursday evening, one in ten vehicles is a truck, on this stretch of Highway 86.
If I include commercial vehicles, like the FedEx van or the plumbers utility, it’s more like 20%.
I suspect that late at night, around 2 a.m., the ratio is closer to 50%, for Highways 86/17 are an alternate route to the big I-90 toll road that runs across New York state from east to West.
Nonetheless, at this time of this day, 10% of traffic is trucks, bringing your cereal to your breakfast table.
In the image above, taken the following misty morning, 3 non-trucks have appeared between the incidents of two trucks heading westbound up the hill.