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Comparing apples to speed limiters

Last Monday’s Queen’s Park protest was too little too late. One time I arrived at Ford Talbotville and all the gates were locked. The security guard told me someone had just stolen a car and driven it right off the assembly floor.. Clearly a case of locking the gate after the horse had gone.
Spokesperson Scott Mooney looked like he was held up to dry, waiting for reinforcements to come from Cambridge that never arrived, and the handful of trucks that did show up weren’t enough to block College Street, let alone ring the legislature.
But I’m not sure an enthusiastic turnout of cheesed-off owner operators would have done much to change public opinion either. However I was categorically wrong stating last year speed limiting Class 8 vehicles could only be safer. How could slowing down velocity result in more accidents?
The epiphany I’ve had is that limiting top ends means you can’t break away from a pack, or speed up in some cases to get in front of merging traffic. Most drivers set the cruise as high as it goes so we get quantum lumps of trucks and four wheelers backed up for kilometres while two rigs spar with each other, gaining and losing millimeters at a time.
However speeds on the 401 have come down since the new year, and few trucks pass me between Toronto and Montreal (those that do aren’t doing any great chore either). But all my driving is at night, so maybe the high ballers are still running during the daytime hours.
A driver for Maritime Ontario told me he hadn’t had his speed backed off yet, but he’s keeping to 104 kph, wary of the bears who seem to be out on the big road thicker than ever these last weeks. Another driver was wondering if there weren’t a toggle switch he could install that would take off the limiter when he gets in the States, where trucks are allowed to run at some good clips. No is the answer, though I suppose a mechanic might be able to show you how to access the electronics and set the limit yourself. Anybody know if this is possible? At least we don’t have to run tachometers as well, like they do in Europe (remember those things, with the big round clock face and the round graphs?)
The other night, somewhere around the Big Apple (Brighton, Ont., not NYC) another tractor trailer pulls out to pass me. It seems to take awhile, but he or she is nudging up. So when buddy is halfway past, maybe going 101.7 kph, and I’m doing 101.34 just coming up to my door—I flip off the cruise and buddy is suddenly sliding by like he’s a highway superhero…like the old days….but behind me a the bunch in the right lane tailing me closely suddenly they have to adjust their speed, hit their brakes and start cramming into the hammer lane.
Except there’s a big hill in front of us, and the guy passing me with all his weight is suddenly dying faster than me backing off the throttle. I’m thinking, better to goose it than have to hit the brakes and really mess up the flow. So suddenly I’m flying up the hill while my new friend is struggling to hold on to high gear.
I see him in the rearview finally getting back into the right lane, but not before a couple of four wheelers pull fabulous NASCAR maneuvers and come roaring by. We get to the top of the next hill and start down the other side and sure enough, here he comes again slipstreaming onto my back door and we start the process all over again.

Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs

Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio. With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.
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14 Comments » for Comparing apples to speed limiters
  1. fjf says:

    hello i been running at 104km or 64miles in the states and canada ever since the new law pass, it been very hard to keep up with the flow of traffic down south and in canada which makes it look dangerous as possible! when you have some four wheeler coming up your behind and cut you off when they get pass you it kinda gets your nerves going . before the law pass i used to do 110km on all major highways and never been pull over at that speed,as you can see that there are at least 5 provinces and at least 6 states that have speeds up to 110km or 75 miles . my concern is that later on in the near future we who are doing the speed limiters are going to lose our life on the job , today i pass thru toronto on the 401 and 400 the four wheelers where doing things that were most dangerous on them highways , so when we have to drive 105km this is not a safe for us to travel at this speed, if the government thinks this new law is right i dare them to get in a rig and travel the highway at 105km and see with their own eyes and also get to feel what we feel, as i think most truckers out there would probaby agree with me that the new law should be taken out , the government have no right on controlling our ways of driving speeds , but only should have the right to control those crazy four wheelers that are causing the major accidents on highways . we need more police on the roads other than have limiters in trucks . that all i have to say thank you for your time

  2. Rob McGinn says:

    Once again, I feel I need to point out the Northern Ontario point of view. I typically drive from Toronto to Thunder Bay twice a year. Once you are past Sault Ste. Marie, the highway is virtually all single lane, and there are many steep hills. When trucks did not have the speed limiters, there would be gaps between the trucks, and areas where you could pass. Now, with the speed limiters set to 105 km/hr, when you get to these steep hills (which there are many), you will encounter a convoy of trucks, all struggling to make it up the hills. At least before, the trucks would have some extra play in the pedal to help get up the hills and even accelerate before the hills to give them a head start.
    I plan to take this drive again in May, and for the first time, am a little nervous about the truck traffic I will encounter. I do not normally go faster than 110 km/hr on this drive, but like the ability to go faster than 40 km/hr on the hills. I fear now, I will be spending a lot longer on this trip (normally about 15 hrs) due to the convoy of trucks struggling on the hills of Northern Ontario. I can’t help but feel for the poor truckers that will have no ability to separate from the other trucks on this route, and am fearful about the one or two trucks that are not limited on their speed, and how they will react to the long line of trucks in front of them.
    This is not a well thought out law, and I believe makes truck driving in Ontario more dangerous than before.
    Rob McGinn,
    Truck Sales Manger,

  3. Greg Manchester says:

    Well Harry I couldn’t agree with you more. The act of limiting big trucks to 105 kmh is not a well thought out idea at all. Ontario speed limits on the 400 series highways are slower than most states and a lot slower than what the highways were designed for. I run Montreal Toronto every night and the packs of trucks fighting to pass one another has turned into an unsafe joke. The politicians are now using us for speed control instead of using the police to control the speed on the highways.
    I just returned from a trip down into the states and the speed limits were anywhere from 65 to 75 mph. But here we are stuck at an artificially low speed limit. This new law will do nothing to reduce highway safety.
    As for the ability of drivers to change there speed limiter setting on there own it is quite possible. Cummins has a free download of their powerspec software available on the internet for free. It can be found at:
    It is also available for Cat engines but is usually quite pricey. About $2500 for the “Cat electronic technician” software. However it is available for download from here for free:
    Even with this software you will need the hardware to be able to connect to the ecm jack on the dashboard. But if you are running the States and western provinces it would certainly pay for itself. Most dealers charge about $100 to read your ecm so it will pay for itself over the long run.

  4. Pete Hirsch Hirsch Motor Freight says:

    Harry, the way the new law is written no one can alter, tamper or set speed limiters once they are put at the 105. I am a fleet owner, have worked as a trainer/instructor, and I am also a qualified, certified truck/coach technician. I don’t agree with 105. 110 would have been better, or not at all. We lack enforcement and education in Ontario. ALL vehicles should be set at the 105 if trucks are. That would be amazing to watch! But HEY, it’s the law now so I will have to abide by it. For years I have (and known of other fleets who have) installed satellite systems that watch the truck’s GPS location. When in Ontario the units are set to 105. Outside of this perimeter the vehicle computer could be set for 110, whatever. Some companies have governed their trucks at 105. If the driver has a good record and needs that extra 108- 110 to pull out and pass, they notify dispatch or the satellite provider by way of a signal (OBRD, cell phone, radio, etc) and for that few minutes the truck is given that extra boost and then it returns to the governed speed. Oh well! Lots of options, but when the U.S. goes to 65mph nationwide what’s the use of options? We have so many rules and regs now (and more coming) that you either have to abide by them or consider doing something else. We don’t have grey areas anymore. It is either this or that way. I was even considering having a few techs sit at certain border points to take off the parameters and reset them when the trucks came back into Ontario. I could make a killing but again you need to read how the new law is written. 42 years on the road, still don’t agree with all the rules, but hey, I made the choice to work on trucks and I made the choice to drive them. It’s up to me if I want to continue putting up with all the insanity that goes with it. Everyone else (up to this time in life) has the freedom of choosing what they want to put up with too!!

  5. David Dudgeon says:

    I don’t look at limiting truck speed as a safety issue so much as a political issue. When i was driving full time i would drive at what speed i felt comfortable at, quite often 95km/h, except on 2 lane highways i never bother to try keeping up to the speed of other traffic. I am not against speed limiters rather the implimentation of the law. The way this law is written it forces Ontario law onto foreign jurstictions and that must be unconstitutional. The reason for implementing the law is nothing other than simple greed. The large corporate trucking companies bought the Ontario government and caused this law to be enacted simply to help force the smaller companies out of business. This is the same reason they wanted to change the hours of service rules and pushed for more emissions controls. The Corporations are playing to public ignorance and the political flavour of the day the dreaded climate change. Everything they are doing is aimed at costing companies more and they do this knowing the smaller companies will be forced out of business eventually. In short the law should be unconstitutional for blanketing other jurstictions and struck down but was pushed through because liberals are easily bought. thank you.

  6. B.J Plummer says:

    I have been a long haul driver for 20+ yrs accident free,running both sides of the border in a company owned fleet tractor trailer governed to 105KMH I plan my time and have no problem running 500 to 600 miles in 11 hrs I stay to the right except to pass if nessessary and have never caused a miles long back up any where.I do agree that limiters are probably not the best “Training Tool” for the Billy Bigriggers out there, they need something stronger to get their attention. I have been put in more danger and seen innocent “4Wheelers” intimidated by these drivers then any other road problem. Fines and points are what will change things.The speed limit is 100kph in Ontario any one breaking the law should be fined if they are a so called “professional” driver the fines should be high enough to get their attention the first time $500+ 3 points and a letter sent to the drivers company indicating changes needed,this should include busses the drivers of these missels should be brought under control their “Freight” is not replacable yet they run with no regard for weather or other highway users.Its not how fast you can go but can you stop?

  7. The comments of B.J.Plummer couldn’t have said it better. Speed kills! Look at any company that limits their drivers to 90 or 95 kph…their safety record is better than anyone else, their trucks live longer, run better, require considerably less maintenance and HAVE A LOT LESS IMPACT ON OUR FRAGILE ENVIRONMENT. Do they struggle anymore climbing hills? Marginally because they start at a slower SAFER speed. Forcing drivers to slow down isn’t going to put the small guy out of business, it’s going to help him make money! When are drivers going to realize that driving at an optimum speed reduces costs and REDUCES CONSIDERABLY THE MILES NEEDED TO MAKE THE SAME DOUGH BECAUSE IT INCREASES THEIR PER MILE RATIO!!!! I’ve driven the Toronto/Montreal corridor many times both as a four-wheeler and as a truck driver and the problem Mr. Rudolfs is talking about happens at any speed limit(ers). If drivers would content themselves to drive at the speed limit there wouldn’t be an issue with using the extra 5 kph to get past someone. Am I for speed limiters, NO! Am I for educating truckers on driving at an optimum speed which is well below the 105 kph speed limiters, YES! I would also like to see speed fines increase for commercial vehicles with an environmental surcharge for treating our precious environment carelessly! SLOW DOWN AND REAP THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS!

  8. Many good points from all. The old saying speed kills is not always correct. If you look at the root cause of a collision it is most likely to be a human factor.
    The attitude of ALL drivers, professional and non professional MUST change. Education would be the first step and then enforcement.
    Mike Kroetsch
    Transportation Safety & Compliance Specialist

  9. robert mario says:

    I had the experience to drive trucks for over 35 years. I have been driving at any and every speed, today, our trucks are limited to 95km, I drive between 90 to 95, my fuel bonus is growing and growing, my day to day life better then ever, and I wonder why people are so much in a hurry to run after trouble, costs of fuel and everything else. By the way I am never late on my deliveries, I sleep well at night and I beleive that once the fuel get back to $1.50 per liter, which is going to happen, all those that want to drive fasters, will soon change tehir opinion.
    Robert Mario

  10. MARTIN COWIE says:

    Gentlemen/Women Drivers
    I too have had my license for 31 years. I used to be known as a Road Knight, now I have to drive the road at night.(Shame)
    I truly beleive that the Speed Limiter is a pain in the buttocks for the professional driver, however…for every 10 professionals out there, there are 90 un-professionals. I know this for a fact. When our company wanted 10 drivers, the company that we hired to retreive them went through 105 drivers to get 10 that were up to our standards. Not that our standards were high, however we were looking for the usual. Good pre-trip, good road evaluation and a good log. So when these other 90 drivers land a job that do not need to do a road eval, trouble is not to far behind.
    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
    Regulation 587 section 14 subsection(4) A commercial motor vehicle is exempt from subsection (3) if it is equipped with an equally effective system, not dependent on the electronic control module, that allows limitation of vehicle speed, remotely or not, but does not allow the driver to deactivate or modify the system in Ontario so that it does not comply with subsections (1) and (2).
    This quote is right out of the Regulation 587 HTA of Ontario. Why would a driver, or an owner, think that they are allowed to deactivate the Speed Limiter. As one of the postings suggested to download a program.The reason behind this law is to slow down the vehicles, whether you think it is a money grab or save the planet. Speed Kills. Slowing down will save fuel, save on Green House Gases, save lives.
    There are numerous ways to slow down a vehicle. A company that I personally know has a Laptop that can adjust the speed of the vehicle, while at his desk,(fleet of 20 trucks). Another is the Geo-reference. Another is to learn to live with it and reap the benefits of knowing that everyone will make it home tonight.
    Below is the website that allows you, the owner or driver, to look at the HTA. This section is easily understood.
    Martin Cowie
    Safety minded and glad to see my kids when they come down the 401 to visit me and the wife.

  11. professional otr driver says:

    going 64mph in a 75mph zone is dangerous not safe i do most of my travels in a big truck in the united states of america and a small percentage in canada where this law is mandatory this is why i have purchased the “safe to pass” program
    slow equals tired
    slow equals tunnel vision

  12. Chantal Sauvé says:

    I am not a truck driver, but a regular motorist driving for well over 30 years. And, I totally disagree with the speed limiters and 105 km/h regulations/law. In my opinion, it has made the 401 highway the most unsafe highway I have ever been on, big trucks passing each other for the sake of 2-3 kms faster clogs up the highway and is a major irritant — it takes much too long for trucks to pass each other at those speeds. I’m looking forward to statistics on accident increases on the segment between Toronto to Quebec border. I have never seen so many tracks in the median as I have since the new law came into effect. I wonder if this new law will lead to road rage incidents?

  13. Onterrible says:

    WOW!! What a backwards old slow fuddy duddy highway system this is in Ontario Canada, as compared to many parts of the world (both developed and developing). Go and visit some other countries in the world and you’ll find out just how backwards transportation is overall in Canada. Did I say Pakistan is faster than Ontario? It’s really quite embarrassing to see first hand. We don’t have high speed highways or super highways or much else resembling highways in Ontario. Just how long do you want to take to get to your destination using the highways? A lifetime? A person may as well “file and paint their nails” while driving at these slow speed limits in Ontario because there’s nothing else to keep their attention.

  14. David Allan says:

    I agree with only one thing . Driving too make your unload time or load time is what most companies want . If you reduce the speed and factor the weather and road construction and accidents and road closures . We as drivers our just under 55 as a average mph. It only becomes dangerous when we are passed on corners or hills or blind spots on the road. This and the fact we drive long hours for less then min wage . Taking in the driver shortage and the foreign influx good luck . No one works for free for long!!

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