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Is our coverage of the speed limiter debate fair?


A recent letter from an owner/operator’s association criticizing our report on the Ontario Trucking Association’s poll showing most Ontarians support speed limiting for trucks has left me wondering why the speed limiter debate has turned so nasty of late.
The owner/operator’s association took a swipe at our editorial integrity and I would like to address that first before getting on to the larger issue of the speed limiter debate.
The poll, conducted by IntelliPulse, on behalf of the OTA, found that 71% of respondents were in favor of the speed limiting proposal and that 79% felt that highway safety would be improved if the policy to limit all trucks to 105 kmh were to become law.
The criticism was that our report on the poll, which appeared on trucknews.com, did not include comments from other parties. Of course, I agree that fair journalism requires comment from other parties, particularly on controversial issues. On the surface, if we look at this story in isolation, it would seem we were not doing our job. But that’s a picture way out of whack with reality.
The reality is that we have devoted tons of ink in previous months to ensuring that all sides in the speed limiter debate have been clearly heard. The Ontario Trucking Association has run columns in Truck News, obviously in favor of speed limiting. But so has the Private Motor Truck Council, a fleet organization, with its opposition to speed limiting. Our sister publication, Motortruck has spoken with truckers in Australia and Europe who have been using speed limiting for some time. We didn’t take the OTA’s word that speed limiting works in the countries that are using it; we made our own enquiries.
And we made sure owner/operator associations were given ample opportunity to share the reasons behind their opposition to the policy. OBAC, for example, has written several times about the issue in its monthly column in Truck News. The comments of OBAC and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers’ Association (OOIDA) have also been included in several news stories about speed limiting in recent months. Our February issue included not only a front-page story about the controversial policy, which included ample comments from OBAC and OOIDA, but also page after page of letters to the editor from drivers and owner/operators. Almost all of the letters were against the OTA’s position.
We have committed so much ink to this issue that I doubt anyone can point to a competing publication that has a done a better job of presenting all sides of this issue.
The “poll” story that we ran on trucknews.com simply advanced our coverage of the issue. If another organization was to come up with a credible poll that showed a different result, we would be happy to publish that as well. To insinuate we are purposely trying to suppress other points of view on this controversial subject is a great distortion of reality.
What it does leave me wondering is if certain industry stakeholders have become so wrapped up in their positions on this issue that they’ve lost their sense of perspective


Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.
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20 Comments » for Is our coverage of the speed limiter debate fair?
  1. Jake says:

    The OTA speed limiter dabate is bound to become contentious because it is essentially just another aspect of the boss imposing his/her financially based values on the often-opposing values of the employee/contractor. The OTA, not unlike the rest of the provincial trucking associations, exists for the sole benefit of the company owners (the bosses) and so it is, to a mere driver, an immediate red flag when the association begins speaking in terms of saving tax payers money and deciding what the best function for government and police forces is.
    The OTA has not and never will act on behalf of, nor in the best interest of the people who perform the work “where the rubber meets the road”. In the event that they do enact something that benefits drivers, it is purely unintentional and accidental, although they will quickly blow their horn about it for all it’s worth.
    At the end of the day, when trucking associations make decisions, they are doing so for the sole purpose of filling the pockets of their boss members with more money.
    I am a current driver and in favour of mandatory speed limiters for large commercial vehicles in Ontario.
    Jake Goertzen

  2. Lou, I’m afraid that you entirely missed the point of my recent letter to Truck News concerning your reporting the OTA poll results on speed-limiters. My criticism was NOT, as you say, that your report did not include comments from other parties. In fact, my criticism was not about the speed-limiter issue at all.
    Rather, I was commenting on a common practice of your magazine that I find rather disconcerting, i.e. Truck News editors putting their own bylines on OTA press releases, or any other press releases, for that matter, giving the appearance that Truck News editors are in fact producing the story in question, which of course they are not.
    When the OTA sends out a press release reporting the results of a poll, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to spin it any way they want, after all, it’s their poll, their interpretation the results, their side of the story. But that’s quite a different thing from Truck News writing an article based on the information in news release. As I pointed out in my earlier letter, IF you were writing an article about the poll and its results, responsible and fair journalism calls for comments from other parties, particularly when it’s a controversial issue. But in this case, you WEREN’T writing the story, you were publishing an OTA press release.
    I agree that your magazine has devoted a lot of ink to the speed-limiter issue, and given voice to organizations and individuals who both support and oppose the OTA proposal. Bravo. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll reiterate my objection, quoting from my original letter: “Please don’t misunderstand what I’m objecting to: it’s certainly not the fact that you are publishing information provided by the OTA, after all, you’re a trucking magazine and this is an issue of interest to your readers. But it’s unfair and misleading for you to publish these news releases with your byline on them, rather than making it perfectly clear to your readers exactly what they are reading — OTA press releases.”

  3. Mervyn Osborne says:

    Is this really about speed or is the OTA using you and public opinion to restrict competition to its members. How many trucks from other areas of North America will stop going to Ontario? Do you have too many trucks serving Ontario now?
    Regarding your poll question “The poll, conducted by IntelliPulse, on behalf of the OTA, found that 71% of respondents were in favor of the speed limiting proposal and that 79% felt that highway safety would be improved if the policy to limit all trucks to 105 kmh were to become law.”
    You would get much the same percentage if you changed the poll to
    A poll, conducted by ABC , on behalf of the XYZ, found that seventy something percent of respondents were in favor of banning trucks from the road well they were driving on it and that seventy something percent felt that highway safety would be improved if all other cars pulled over when they wanted through.
    In other words why bring the unqualified into this debate.

  4. Jeffrey Rogerson says:

    I think that this issue just takes the focus off the real factor in highway safty, enforcment of the traffic code in general. I can see how governing bodies just love this idea since they can target the trucking industry where compliance is easier to enforce and infractions are a “cash cow”. How about slowing down the flow of non-commercial traffic on the 401 from 130 km/hr to the speed limit? Lets see how they works out!
    Jeffrey Rogerson

  5. Darin REnouf says:

    I think that mr. Bradley should keep his nose out of this. He is hampering trucking instead of helping. Keep this craziness in Ontario and leave the rest of us alone.

  6. Ken Nevils says:

    It is hard to dispute the many benefits to operating at lower speeds. However we have laws that govern these speeds alredy. So do other jurisdictions many of them ten to twenty kph higher than Ontario. How do they propose that operators deal with this, continually reset parameters? More to the point with this poll, I would venture to guess that the majority of respondants were people who have no connection or knoweldge of trucks. A very biased segment of the population. I could relate story after story of the foolish manouvers that four wheelers have executed around my truck or countless others I have witnessed from my truck or car that did not involve me. It is many times only to the credit of the truck driver that there are not far more car/truck collisions. As for Mr. Bradley’s comments about leveling the playing field, what a crock! By and large the trucks that you do see speeding to any degree are involved in the haulage of certain commodities I will leave to your own conclusions. These commodities are hauled on a just in time basis. Many of these schedules are far too demanding. The slightest delay makes some of them unrealistic and therefore create damned if you do damned if you don’t demands on the driver. Of course there are those who just speed for thier own reasons, much like about seventy-five per cent of the cars you encounter. In a nut shell the effort and money they are spending trying to look good to the motoring public would be better expended convincing the government to tighten the process of getting a driver license instead of handing them out like is being done at present. A component should be added to the G license whereby these motorist should have to be educated on the interaction of cars with trucks there is a real problem rather than some imagined one. From my perspective retesting would be good for G licenses also. Am I the only one who has noticed that people in my age group (mid fourties) seem to either have forgotten the rules of the road or just feel that they have gained such an ability to drive a motor vehicle (probably by watching nascar on the weekend) that the rules don’t apply to them. Many other actual issues need to be dealt with it makes you wonder why they choose this to pursue. While I’m thinking about it what about the carriers whose CVOR’s have been revoked, some of them several times and are at the same address, same equipment, different name. Look some of the ones up that you see running up and down the road every day but are listed as CVOR revoked. I wish some one would explain this. Yes, very more important issues than speed limiters in my opinion. (sorry for the lack of paragraphs but when I get started… If you go back to correct it you have to retype)

  7. Adam Lowry says:

    Let’s be honest, all media organizations are biased. Why should you be any different. The Toronto Sun is biased towards Conservatives, and the Toronto Star is biased towards Liberals. So the Truck News is biased towards the OTA. Does this surprise anybody?
    To answer your question, yes your coverage is fair to those whose ideology matches that of Mr. Bradley’s.

  8. Ron MacPherson says:

    I recently conducted my own poll, on the 401 between Cambridge and Toronto I asked the Question “who belongs to the ota” the response in a three mile radius was no one………

  9. don bell says:

    why does it always come down to the driver footing the bill some very smart people should try driving hwy.,35 with their cruis control in their suv locked on 83km per hr. check your speed at the top everyone wants and expects the driver to foot the bill. i know all company ceo,s are usetobe drivers but try putting in 11 hours on any road in Ontario TODAY how many times a day does a comuter have a person reading a newspaper cut them off or stop in front of them. it is getting harder every day to do our jobs. why not try somthing diferent try minding your own bisiness and clean up your own driving habits and let the opp take care of the speeding trucks the proper way

  10. rick bell says:

    just remember who the people are who keep this country rolling when ever you critisize. we work 24/7 x 365 , and the stats show, truckers are the safest on the roads in NORTH AMERICA not 4 wheelers. SLOW them down as well or the canage will only continue. not a threat, just a fact.

  11. Doug Pettman says:

    I was an O/O in the 1980’s with large cars that would run fast. I spent my time in the left lane.I left the industry for 20 years to farm and now am back. I have noticed that the speed has dropped a lot since the 80’s. Most of the traffic sits around 100-110kph at the most. You still have some that go by but not many. Now at a 105 kph you are passing lots of large cars going 100kph to save fuel.The price of fuel is making more people slow down than limiters will ever do.There was an piece on the radio that they were testing limiters for cars in Edmonton and Ottawa. If someone was a repeat offender they were looking at having to put these in their car like a alcohol sniffer for a impaired driver.This would help the flow of traffic more by getting the smaller vehicles from the high speeds.You get someone coming up behind you at 150 kph and then gets in among some trucks doing 105kph minding thier own business, add some ice and now you have a problem.

  12. Peter Turner says:

    Lou
    I belive that you have miss the boat again on this one. We have contacted the Minstry of transport and the oPP for their stats on speeding they told me that the average speed for trucks is between 108 – 110. so were are your stats to back your story. As you ask me for back up for what I say. I now ask ypou to back up for what you have printed . After you get perissiom from The OTA to respond.
    Please menion to Mr Bradley that I am still waiting for his responce to my press release.
    Again you have failed to print the trucker side. We did send a Press release to you. If you wish a copy just go to wwww.thetruckersvoice.ca

  13. Ron MacPherson says:

    To whom it may concern:
    I may be a little late in voicing my concerns, but here is my .02$.
    My first question is who does the Ontario Trucking Association represent?It is certainly not me.
    I’m an owner operator. My truck is a 2005 Western Star. It is powered by a C-15 cat engine @ 475 hp. this truck is quite capable of going well above the posted speed limit.
    The thing that makes me run at 80 to 100 kph is price of fuel. The new emission engines (that came about in 2003?)
    are not as fuel efficient as the previous engines that were available. My last truck a Kenworth with a 500 hp. Cummins(1997) ran at 6.5 mpg to 7.2 mpg (us gallon)(at a speed of 105 to 115 kph). My new truck
    runs between 5.0 mpg to 6 mpg (us gallon)(at the speed of 95 to 105 kph, it gets much worse at higher speeds). let me translate that in to dollars and cents. 1.5 mpg over a year at diesel price of (today’s price at London Flying J) .829 per liter/3.13 per gallon (converted to us gallon)
    120000 miles per year divided by 5 mpg = 24000 gallons
    120000 miles p yr divided by 6.5 mpg = 18461.53 gallons
    a diff of 5538.46 gallons a yr. At today’s price of diesel
    $17335.39 per year difference.
    A side note here, how does burning another 5538 gallons of diesel produce less emissions?(old to new)
    the new engines produce less emissions but are they that much less that burning another 5500 gallons is still some benefit?
    The people that I see passing me on a regular basis are for the most part company drivers.they are also the ones that have their trucks idling in the truck stops.
    I have a bunk heater that I use instead of idling. I very rarely get to pass someone but when I do, I don’t pass them at a 5 kph difference (103 to 98 kph) which blocks all the rest of the traffic behind me.
    I will get out and get around the slower vehicle in a manner that will not cause a large bottleneck on a major hwy. So I do speed up to 115 kph to make sure that the flow of traffic is preserved then pull back into the right lane and resume my
    previous speed.
    The OTA professes that the speed limiter they are proposing are for safety reasons.I don’t buy that. The OTA is funded by the lager fleets that operate in Ontario. They say that everyone needs a even playing field.
    Do they mean to say that the same larger fleets who pass me up and down the hwy, burning more fuel than myself, need a measure that would limit the speed of there trucks so that the lager companies could realize the same fuel saving that I currently enjoy. If they were to regulate themselves these same drivers would leave in droves because they don’t want to go 95 kph or 100 kph. They wish to get up and down the road as quick as they can to get back home or take another run. Its a matter of they get paid by the mile, the more miles they run the more they make.The less time they take to do it enables them to make more. I get paid a percentage of the value of the load. while it could be said the faster I do it the more I make but another factor in my equation is the faster I go the more I spend. (fuel) I only do aprox 2300 miles per week but the % enables me to do better than those by the mile drivers.
    Speed limiters are a bad idea because they will only go towards re-regulating an industry that depends on competition to provide good service at reasonable cost. I pride myself at providing good service to the customers that I deal with all week. I try to provide the service that I expect from others that I myself pay for. The OTA seems to me to be no different than any other lobby group that will say and distort facts to push their own agenda through government to the benefit of those they represent. The larger fleets are looking for ways to recoup the difference in fuel mileage between the pre-emission engine and the emission engine. Their drivers are in no way giving any incentive to run at reduced speed but quite the opposite. I sympathize with their plight. If it cost me $17000.00 more to operate 1 truck, 300 trucks must be quite the difference in profits. They should regulate themselves by offering better pay for those drivers that get better fuel mileage.That would encourage their drivers to reduce speed and get better fuel mileage. If they offered to split the diff in fuel mileage savings with their drivers you would see a huge number of trucks slowing down, and less idling.
    There are many more factors than speed that attribute to safe driving. following too close would be my #1 concern. I see it every day 3 to 5 trucks less than 2 car lengths between each other. The same thing in bad conditions following to close. Another is the construction factor, cars seem to think that staying in the lane that is ending (due to construction) right up to the cones is good driving. It causes the bottleneck to become worse. Someone hits the brakes to let them in and you get the large chain reaction. This inturn disrupts the flow of traffic. I have often wondered what a law saying anyone merging within a mile of construction gets a ticket. what would that do to improve traffic flow and increase the safety factor for the construction worker? Another one that I should mention is fatigue. Is the driver that is going 55 mph (but tired) safer than the one doing 65 mph (but alert)? Carelessness, cellphones ,improper lane changes, all things needed to be addressed but the OTA seems to focus on the speed limiters only. Better driver training all around (car and truck). One that I’ve often thought of is getting your license. You drive your test around town at 50 kph, parallel park, obey the rule of the road and you get a license.How does this qualify you to merge onto a 4 lane hwy? I still see people stop at the end of a “get on ramp” to wait for a clearing in traffic.
    We have speed limit laws now. If they are not enforced is that the problem of the industry? Again I wish to say that this OTA is nothing better than a lobby group that wishes to force an issue that is beneficial to the people that they represent.

  14. Robert Parisien says:

    I share the opinions of previous truckers such as Ron; driving your own rig at 95-105 kph does make economic/financial sense on your consumption of fuel.
    I definitely like to have some extra speed when I’m passing, so I don’t block the left lane for unnecessary amount of time. This often results in causing negative and aggressive gestures by 4 wheelers. Common courtesy is not seen to often now these days. But when someone is courteous, I’m sure to thank him/her.
    I’ve read all previous comments and for the sake of safety, if the government were to pass a law limiting speed for trucks, it would definitely cause accidents for high-speed cars weaving between trucks and, cars trying to merge into traffic.
    I propose that, if this is to become law, ALL other users be limited to the same speed so there’s not a big difference in speed.
    This way, all would benefit on fuel consumption, and there would be fewer fatalities since there will be less accidents and for the accidents happening at a lower speed, chances for the occupants would increase.
    If you got it, a truck brought it.
    Bob Parisien

  15. Jake says:

    I am in favour of mandatory speed limiters in Ontario, provided that I am able to travel at a speed of at least 175 kmh in my long nose Pete, in order to keep up to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis being driven by OTA members, so I might salute them, many of whom are my friends and former truck drivers.
    Jake Goertzen

  16. Todd Cameron says:

    Here’s a good idea lets leave the polls to the politicians because lets faces it, the general public has no idea what the trucking industry is about. As far as I’m concerned the reporting of this story has been fair. I would just like to say instead of the government thinking about this stupid proposal, maybe they should think about putting more money into enforcement and let the police do there job. For the amount of trucks actually speeding there are lot more cars who seem to think there above the law. People seem to forget that driving is a privilege not a right and that this privilege can be revoked. So lets let the police do their job and maybe with a show of force they can reduce the speeding and make our highways safer.

  17. Shawn Jeffery says:

    let’s all step back and breath.everybody seems so worked up over this speed limiter issue,you’re
    missing the simple solution”ENFORCEMENT,ENFORCEMENT,ENFORCEMENT”now here me out before you get your panties all bunched up again.
    l disagree with the speed limiter,i drive for one of these large companies that are pushing for it,and i think they’re full it.i have no problem with my truck locked out 103km/h but i sure
    as heck don’t want everbody else that way.so here is what we do:
    increase the legal limit to 105km/h
    adopt a zero tolerance for speeding
    double fines (both points and money)
    double officers on patrol
    saving the best for last,bring back PHOTO RADER
    this will either make everybody happy or really peave everybody off,keep in mine this applies to every tom,dick,and harry on the road not just billy big rigger.now i will explain how these 5
    simple things will cure the problem.first now nobody is going to get thier truck denutted,lot a people happy already,second,increasing the speed limit just sweetens average joe up for the following nasty things to come.Third zero tolerance/double points and money,just look at the state of NJ,they did this 3 or 4yrs ago and since then there accidents and speeding has decreased cause nobody can afford it,look into it l ain’t lying.double points and money will encourage the officer to put down the donut and go after you,because the fine for 110km is now double so instead of 2 points and $90 it is now 4points and $180.Fourth,we’re going need more officer out there,l here they’re shutting down the opp road rangers.big mistake they should be doubling the size of them to enforce the new rules.last but not not least “PHOTO RADER” ohh,such nasty words but can u say CASH COW,CASH COW.Money has to come from somewhere to pay for all this.if red light cameras r legal then so is PHOTO RADER.this should stop the government and OTA from saying it’s not fincially possible.
    Now make sure ur brain is running before u put ur mouth in gear to respond to these suggestings,because you’ll get what you wanted,ur left lane truck is still a left lane truck,if you want or need to use it,just remember u wanna play be perpared to pay.the 4 wheelers are now
    slowed down because they’re scared to go fast,and those that aren’t between Photo Rader and double the police presence they will be.
    Yours truly,Shawn Jeffery

  18. Adam Lowry says:

    Thank you Mr.Smyrlis for getting the ball rolling on this discussion. However, why haven’t you responded to any posted message? Why not take advantage of this opportunity to connect with people in the industry. You posed a serious question. Do you not have a follow up remark?

  19. James L Alderton says:

    Transport Canada has actively been developing speed limiters for cars and small trucks and vans,the way it works it is linked to GPS,the posted speed limit is 100 kph thats all the vechile will do!So why are truck drivers being singled out in this speed limiter debate,if speed limiters are to be imposed on truck tnan it should include all vechiles.Mr Bradley and his croonies down at the POSSUM LODGE ON DIXON RD.are trying to impliment this to futher line their own pockets well creating a self styled dictorship in the trucking industry.If they were truly commited to highway safety they would include small vechiles in their bill,but we all know this is not going to happen because their bill would die if this was included.So MR DAVID BRADLEY STEP TO THE PLATE INCLUDE SMALL VECHILES IF YOU DON’T WE ALL KNOW YOUR BIG SPEECHS ON HIGHWAY SAFETY ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A FARCE AND THAT THIS BILL IS YOUR WAY OF CREATING A DICTARSHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!EQUAL TREATMENT FOR ALL HIGHWAY USERS NOT A SELECT GROUP

  20. Scott Mooney says:

    It has been a long time since any comments have been added to this forum. I would like to add my own now that we are going in to the third month of the speed limiter law.
    Just as was forcasted to happen, traffic is getting backed up by slow moving trucks passing, increased road rage incidents, and in some cases there has been increased fuel usage. I dread seeing the affect of more collisions involving trucks. I have seen many near misses with frustrated motorists squeezing between trucks and cutting in front of them just to get by. It’s going to happen if it hasn’t already.
    I really have to ask this question… Why would any trucking association put any truck driver at any higher risk like this speed limiter law does.
    On the outside, slower is safer. In reality, when you actually drive that truck, slower angers other motorists. The same motorists where speeding is a real problem with. The highest majority of accidents involving trucks where speed was a factor, the truck was not the vehicle that was speeding. So again, why limit trucks when there is no problem with speeding trucks?
    Truck driver’s and Owner Operators are coming together tomorrow, March 2nd, at Queen’s Park to protest for a change of the speed limiter law. The public is starting to see that our concerns are the truth and the reality.

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