Southern Sojourn

A visit to the U.S. South and South West in wintertime. Links to all pages:

Traffic

Below are sections on Pickups and Freight.

In general, the Americans drive OK. They drive fast on the main roads, but everyone agrees on that. There are no pedestrians or cyclists to consider, and apart from school buses and long-distance buses, there seems to be no public transport.

I haven't experienced any reckless driving or big cars going way faster than everyone else. Many Americans prefer to drive in the left lane if there is more than one lane, and therefore it is quite common to overtake on the right.

There is only a license plate on the back of the cars. This is a shortcoming, because you can read a lot from a license plate. Orange and purple position lights are permitted at the front of cars. It is also allowed with tinted windows for all side windows. The police also use tinted side windows, so you cannot see whether there are zero, one or two officers in a parked police car.

There are many tall, gas-guzzling SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles).

Nashville skyline.

Children leaving the school bus in Hualapai, Arizona.

Sidewalk with obstacles, Lafayette, Louisiana.

Cycle path in Memphis, Tennessee. As it is painted on the asphalt without regular borders, it is not respected by motorists. They use the cycle path as a parking space or as a shortcut.

Monument Valley, Utah. Forrest Gump was here, and this must be the reason why many people run on this stretch. Pedestrians are so rare on American roads that on this strech drivers are warned against pedestrians on large traffic signs.

Fancy car with oversized low profile wheels and a high center of gravity. Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Some American drivers value autonomy and mark it by driving in the dark without turning on their lights. Daunting! Seen in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and in many other places.

A pickup truck is a substitute for a horse and cart. It is strong and can transport many kinds of goods. Many pickups have V8 petrol engines and roar like a lion when you step on the gas. In the USA it is used for many purposes where in Europe you would use a truck. Pickup trucks may be so prevalent because American men never really grow up - mentally they remain teenagers.

Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Stroud, Oklahoma.

Garven, Texas.

Pickup trucks are getting larger and are a hazard to pedestrians. Because of the height and long hoods, large pickups has a large blind spot so that you cannot see small children in front of the vehicle. Because of the weight, the driver and passengers are well protected, and pedestrians are at risk.

The US has much higher road death rates than other rich countries, approximately 800 dead pedestrians per year. Photo from Aurora, North Carolina.

Aurora, North Carolina.

Mule transport, Grand Canyon, Arizona

A pickup truck can haul a lot of hay. Scranton, South Carolina

A pickup with hay in Kayenta, Arizona.

There are only a few boxcars in use. Here is a plumber i Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The coroner in Clarksdale, Mississippi, has a boxcar with a warning: "If you drink and drive, your future ends behind these doors". Drunk driving is common because there is no public transport.

Ford boxcar for sale in Miami, Texas.

Beautifully restored pickup seen in Odd, Georgia.

Trucks and truck trains are allowed to go at the same speed as cars, and they go faster than most cars.

When I drove 65 miles an hour on the freeway (105 km/h), I was overtaken by a truck train once a minute - but to quote Steinbeck: "I drove as slowly as custom and the impatient law permitted. Thatís the only way to see anything."

American trucks are very long and usually have five axles. The rear wheels sit far back. It provides stable driving, but also a large turning radius. Des Arc, Arkansas.

Trucks' taillights are tucked between the rear wheels. Both brake lights and turn signals are red, so it's hard to tell the difference. Memphis, Tennessee.

Transport of new trucks using a special bracket. It feels strange to be overtaken by three or four trucks at once. McLean, Texas.

American railroads are used almost exclusively for long-distance freight transportation. Only five percent of rail traffic is passenger trains. All locomotives in the United States are powered by diesel engines. The freight trains are 1,500-2,000 meters long with containers in two layers and up to five locomotives to pull. Hualapai, Arizona.

The Maersk container in the picture is a standard 40-feet container. Internally in the USA are used 50-foot containers. They cannot be transported on ships. Los Lunas, New Mexico.

In some places, the rail network is very worn. This bridge is used daily for freight transport. Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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