As Ontario’s pilot LCV program is getting ready to wrap up for the winter, I’ve noticed something strange going on. They’re getting faster. Some of the long trains are pushing the 90kph limit, and I don’t just mean downhill.
The Ontario/Quebec reg’s are pretty clear: Thou shalt not exceed 90 kph, and most of the big boys seem to be keeping it there. But the tractors are governed for 105 and when the law’s not looking some of the trainmen are dropping the hammer part ways. Usually at night, and I suspect they’re trying to do Montreal-Toronto round trips and trying to keep within HOS. When the highway gets closed they also get all messed up because they can’t take detours, and don’t forget they’re not allowed in the Big Smoke during rush hour.
So if you’re trying to run say, Mississauga Road to the Montreal suburb of Anjou, you’d be pretty hard pressed to do it in 6.5 hours steady driving at 90kms without a break. Even if the trains hooked up when you get there, pulling a round trip in 14hours, without exceeding 12 hours driving time is nigh impossible.
Quickening road trains are a new issue. Maybe it’s not a big deal, and I’m sure they can do 100 yards safely, no problemo, like they do out West. But this is while the pilot project is still in effect. Why jeopardize the trial, when most companies only have one or two permits?
And remember, these are supposed to be the best, most qualified, conscientious drivers, the cream of the creme brule, exemplary knights of the blacktop. But unless you’ve got the cruise control set at nine-zero, a driver could be excused for letting it go a little bit down the gentle rolling hills of Northumberland County. But that’s not what I’m talking about. These daredevils are up to 95 and maybe more when no one’s looking. Yikes, I say.
So what’s the big deal? Truly, I only noticed because I used to whip by these guys doing my 99 kph, and lately it seemed to be taking longer to pass them. Speed limiters setting the max at 105, and the 90kph LCVs, have changed the dynamics out there.
As my colleague Bob Sherwood explains: “One night they closed the 401 for 15 or 20 minutes at the 613 in Kingston. I noticed it took almost one hundred kilometres before traffic worked its way out, to about the 710 marker. That’s with four-wheelers going crazy and trucks running side by side for a long ways.
“LCVs, if they’re working right and running 90, straighten the traffic out. People have to pull into the left lane to pass and the traffic gets spaced out quickly. But if I come across an LCV doing 97, I can’t get around him.”
This really is happening, but I’m not going to name names I’ve asked around and other drivers have noted this trend as well. Like I said, most of them are playing fair. Two I came across last night were doing 90 right on the button.
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. All posts by Harry Rudolfs