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Recaps, which bother some motorists, help keep trucker costs down

Q. I was driving the southbound I-5 Freeway in Irvine when a four-wheel truck ran over a large recap that flew out from under his vehicle and slammed into the front, right side of my SUV. It happened so quickly. The damage to my vehicle was more than $1,100 and it took a week to fix. My insurance company did pay for 90 percent of it. Why does the California Highway Patrol allow semi-trucks and trailers to travel on the freeways with recap tires? I understand that the cost of a recap is less than a new tire, but the damage that the recap tire does to other vehicles traveling on our highways is an issue.

– Pat  Calabrano, Irvine

A. The CHP has nothing to do with allowing recaps on the highway – that is the state Legislature’s business, which is the only entity that can make changes to the California Vehicle Code.

Honk’s crack office staff didn’t have time to poll state lawmakers, but he can tell you a bit about recaps.

Federal law does insist that the front tires of the truck itself can’t be recaps, also known as “re-molds,” used tires that undergo a re-manufacturing process to replace the worn tread on top.

There are restrictions to ensure the used tires are in good shape; for example, there are age limits.

The CHP does get involved with recaps, and everything else that pops up on freeways; patrol officers routinely perform traffic breaks to pull large rubber chunks and other stuff from lanes.

And officers do inspect the tires, especially at trucker weigh stations.

Honk’s trucking expert, John Dunson, who lives in Santa Ana and drove semis for decades before retiring several years ago, said truckers would prefer to run on all new tires, but it is all about money, and the savings recaps provide varies, depending on all sorts of factors including quality, of course.

How many recaps a driver is running on his or her truck and trailer can vary, too.

“Everybody would like to drink fine wine, but many can’t afford it,” Dunson said. “If you can afford new tires, you buy them. If you can’t, you buy recaps.”

Q. Honk: I was just wondering about the Orange County Fire Authority’s diesel-powered vehicles, with their motors staying on at the scene of fires to power the water pumps for the hoses. How will that work in remote areas when all vehicles must be electric as mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom? Won’t the trucks and engines run out of juice? Guess I’ll try to corner the market on very long extension cords to be used with emergency vehicles.

– Ted Ross, Huntington Beach

A. Honk, who got a good chuckle out of this query, would advice against such an investment.

The governor’s executive order is a dandy goal, should it be practical down the road, but the four-and-half pages of “whereas” and “therefores” includes such loose words as “goal” and “target.”

A judge would probably go through more than one robe wading through lawsuits, too.

The order does say the goal is for all new passenger cars and trucks sold in California to be zero-emission vehicles, starting in 2035.

Starting a decade later, the goal is for “all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles” to also produce zero emissions “for all operations where feasible.”

Well, the Los Angeles Fire Department expects delivery early next year of what is billed as the first electric fire truck deployed by a North American agency, so station houses across Southern California might all deploy that technology someday.

The state’s Air Resources Board (ARB) is to design how the order is carried out. And for now, at least, that agency intends to cut our public agencies slack.

“While we can’t say what the future holds, as of right now, ARB policy has been to exempt all authorized emergency vehicles,” Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the board, told Honk in an email. “This means that fire trucks, etc., will be exempt from any regulated ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) purchase requirements.”


Source: Orange County Register

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