Truck News


Speed limiters: post-mortem – a different view

James and I really do get along – but not when it comes to the issue of speed limiters. If you’ve been following our blogs over the past while you know James doesn’t think they’re such a good idea while I think they are.
Speed limiters are now the law in Ontario and James takes one last shot, writing that the way the law came to be has left him “with a sour taste.” He feels the one-day public hearing was a farce, with practically no advanced notice provided to stakeholders. “It was clear from the get-go that this government was simply going through the motions, with no real intent of making any changes to the proposed legislation,” he writes in his blog and believes the Ontario government got too chummy with the Ontario Trucking Association during the process.
I think we’re making mountains out of mole hills.
Much has been made about the shortness of the public hearings. But let’s put this in perspective. Speed limiters were not an issue that just suddenly surfaced. It has been debated for two and a half years now. Both the Ontario Trucking Association and those opposed to speed limiter legislation, namely OOIDA and OBAC, have had plenty of time to make their opinions known to legislators. Also during this time the trade media have provided extensive coverage of the issue, again providing plenty of opportunity for both sides to present their views. (And I bet if we were to take a count of all the articles written in all the trade media about speed limiters we would find the majority voiced the concerns of those opposed).
Any politician wanting to make an informed decision on how to vote had no shortage of material to read and no shortage of time to make up his or her mind. What would longer public hearings have provided? What evidence would have been presented that had not already been documented over the past two and a half years?
I can’t argue that there should not have been more advanced notice provided about the hearings. But again let’s put this in perspective. Each presenter at the public hearings were asked to speak for just 10 minutes. Now to someone not used to speaking in public that may seem a daunting task, particularly when they’ve been given little advanced notice. But for professional lobbyists, such as OTA, OOIDA and OBAC, being asked to speak for 10 minutes on an issue they’ve known intimately and written extensively for more than two years is not exactly a tough assignment.
And what about the belief that the OTA basically wrote the speed limiter law for the government? For the last time, let’s place things in perspective. Motor carriers, through the OTA, approached the government and asked to be legislated. They actually asked the government to make life tougher for them by giving them one more regulation to follow. So why shouldn’t they have attempted to draft the legislation in a fashion they found to be workable? The OTA certainly made no secret of what it wanted with the legislation and anyone opposed to it had plenty of time to voice their concerns.
Let’s drop the conspiracy theories and stop making mountains out of mole hills. Speed limiters became law in Ontario because when legislators were presented with both sides of the issue over the course of more than two years, they found the pro side made the most sense. It’s as simple as that.

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.
All posts by

Print this page

19 Comments » for Speed limiters: post-mortem – a different view
  1. Laura O'Neill says:

    When I woke up this morning and discovered that George Carlin had died, I wondered, when would I ever laugh again? Upon reading your blog, I have an answer to that question because your blog is hysterical. But let me reply to the humor with some serious answers to your points.
    1. The motor carriers did not ask to simply to be regulated. 4% of the industry asked that the government regulate the remainder of the industry. Those that wanted to use speed limiters were free to do so. Big business trucking companies asked the Government to regulate their competition. Please do not make the assertion that the small membership of the OTA speaks for or represents the interest of the hundreds of thousands of small business motor carriers, employee drivers, and owner operators. The OTA represents the owners and the intersts of large companies.
    2. OOIDA had an overwhelming amount of evidence in opposition to the speed limiter legislation. 10 minutes was woefully inadequate to engage in the technical discussion that should have accompanied this “debate”. If you were in the room at the hearing, you would have picked up on some of the frustrations of the MPP’s who wished to ask questions, but were unable due the time contraints. The speed limiting of a truck is actually quite technical as it relates to emissions and safety. The hearing was not an adequate amount of time for public debate.
    3. OOIDA first learned of the initiative in Ontario last year. Since the OOIDA Foundation is primarily concerned with highway safety, we were anxious to see what sort of studies proponents of this legislation were relying on. We discovered that there was very little scientific evidence in support of the measure. The proponents could site nothing beyond conjecture and observation. In addition there is was a tremendous amount of misinformation that had been irresponsibly circulated upon which the good intending members of the Government had relied. Statements such as: ‘there isn’t any evidence of a truck being rear ended by someone who wasn’t drunk out of their minds or didn’t have a death wish’. It is hard to undue misinformation once it sticks but the fact is that trucks are rear ended all of the time. In fact, 17% of all trucking accidents which include a fatality involve the rear ending of a truck. Meeting with the Government was an uphill battle on this issue, because they were sold a bill of goods.
    4. People’s livlihoods may be mole hills to you, but they are mountains to many hardworking truck drivers in North America. Diesel is over $5.00 per gallon and in the first quarter of 2008 we lost over 1000 small business trucking companies mostly because of the price of fuel. Drivers are faced with very real decisions in this economic climate that impact the lives of thier family members. The average small business truck driver makes around $36,000 per year and to tell him that he can no longer have the option of taking his route into Ontario without installing some uncecessary and arguably unsafe piece of equipment that will cost him thousands of dollars out of his own pocket is a mountain to a driver. And please don’t imply that speed limiters will somehow help offset the fuel costs for drivers. These are guys that know that speed alone isn’t the ONLY factor involved in getting the most efficient performance out of a truck. It is how you spec the truck. In fact, if the Government wanted to actually have an honest conversation about fuel savings they would have initiated legislation that would seek to outfit trucks with APU’s. Or would fight to improve the aerodynamics of the truck by seeking to outfit all trucks with fairings. Also, if the Government’s motives were pure on this, they would simply have done the easiest thing in the world that they could have done to achieve their goals: enforce the existing speed limits and slow everyone on the road down.

  2. Ron says:

    Your opinion is your entitlement. However now that it is stated I wonder if your readers continue to suport you or your mag. This issue is far from being over. Retreat? Hell, I’M advancing in a different direction.

  3. Ron says:

    Well said Laura.

  4. John says:

    How much money does the OTA contibute to your magazine? I’m surprised there’s money left over after their contributions to the Ontario gov’t.
    Do people really think the OTA represents the trucking industry? They are a complete joke and an embarrassment to the trucking industry, much like the ATA is here in the states. Both organizations represent big business and nothing more.
    If this law was really about safety wouldn’t the limit be set at 100 km/ph?
    Could you please post some background on yourself Lou how my time have you spent behind the wheel of a truck,what is your experience in the trucking industry,etc.
    I would just like to know what your comments are based on.

  5. J Lawson says:

    LMAO… There is not a businessman in the country that would ask the gov’t to make make life tougher via more regulations to follow. C’mon Lou, think about that statement for a minute. Sheesh.
    Frankly I think Ontario truckers should get a jump on the new law, and should propose a week of 100 Kmh max on all major highways, plug them right up tight for about a week and watch the fur fly. The public outcry may turn the political will, after all this is just about votes….

  6. Sky. W says:

    Now that this law has passed what’s going to happen to the trucks who are not spec’d or geared for 105 or 100km/hr? Owners of those trucks will suffer from bad mpg’s, shorter engine life and create more pollution in Ontario. Wasn’t that the idea, create less pollution? I still think the government should have gone with better enforcement for all, cars and trucks. To me it looks like most politicians did it as a good PR move to publicly back this law and nothing more.

  7. F Flynn says:

    As a professional driver, it doesn’t matter to me what excuse the Government or in-bred associations use. The fact of the matter is, the more control of the vehicle you take from the driver, the poorer decisions he or she will be forced to make. Technically, and in fact legally, the new law WILL affect the log book, however there seems to be no mention of it anywhere. I guess drivers will still be required to log Toronto to Winnipeg in one 14 hour window, whether its true or not. I mean really people, let’s take a look at Buses and Taxis in any major city, the have their own lanes, and can travel at virtually any speed. Oh, and how about Greyhound another PIC company, loaded with un-monitored freight and passengers, they can travel as fast as the bus will physically move, and the exhaust from those vehicles, yeah, this new Ontario law is legit. Unfortunately, when a trucking company loses money due to poor management and horrible business practices, the drivers get targeted. Luckily, these same companies can now go overseas, and recruit (trap) foreigners. What the trucking industry needs is some honesty, intelligence, and a calculator that works. Happy 4th! BTW Laura, well said!

  8. Chris Eldridge says:

    Here is a copy of a letter I sent to various organizations and publications.
    It is aimed at people that voted the first NDP government in awhile ago.
    Did you enjoy your choice?
    This debate is the aftermath and result of that decision.
    As stated in my letter, this is NOT about speed limiters, it is about the process. Heck, most of older guys stopped going over a 100 klicks many years ago!
    In the June issue of Truck News I was mildly amused (and impressed) by all the signatories at the end of the letter “OTA Carriers take issue with comment.” If you thought Ms. Ritchie was insulting, (when in fact she was just stating the facts as she and her organization see them) I can hardly wait to see your reaction to this!
    While I have never met or spoken to Ms. Ritchie I applaud her and her organization on their stance on speed limiters, because this is not just about speed limiters. Any clear thinking, sane, rational person will realize it sooner or later. No, I’m afraid this has tentacles that reach much further than the story itself. (More in a minute about that)
    I have not seen one piece of proof from any credible agency that speed limiters for large trucks will (a) reduce greenhouse emissions as stated or (b) improve highway safety. (How fast do you think trucks are driving at well over a dollar a litre? Do you think that the price of fuel will fall to 42 cents again and all trucks will immediately start doing 120?)
    Where’s your proof David Bradley? Is Ms. Ritchie supposed to take your word for it because you’re the O.T.A.? Do you consider your organization a credible agency? Of course you do, and you have the members to prove it don’t you? Why just look at all those dues paying members at the end of the letter. As I said, impressive!
    With regard to the further reaching tentacles comment, whenever private organizations such as the OTA (Let’s call them the farmer) get into bed with the government as the OTA is well noted for doing, (they call it working with the government, this is not the proper term, the proper term is collusion. This is because their interference is designed to benefit only their members and not the industry as a whole) the ultimate and inevitable result is chaos! For example, laws that are not designed to promote safety within our industry or to save the environment, (Look at the debacle that’s been created by the new HoS for example, I wonder who had a hand in that) but instead we get laws that are customized to suit a single entity. (Damn the rest of the industry, unless you’re a dues payer.) The more members the better (Let’s call them the sheep.)
    Well sheep, one day soon, the government is going to make a law (without consulting the farmer first) that even you won’t be able to swallow.
    What will the farmer do? I’ll leave that up to your imagination, based on their (and your) track record thus far.
    If you’re a sheep, I know how you will answer, so please, spare me the cliché’s, I’ve heard it all before and frankly, your answers are illogical and just plain boring.
    If you’re truck driver or business owner, and have gone along for the ride, take a look at that headlight in the very far distance.
    YES, you can see it, can’t you? That is exactly what you have created and deserve, and you will now suffer the consequences of your sheep philosophy.
    To those of you like Ms. Ritchie and her organization, I wish you the best for recognizing the path of the farmer and the sheep and for refusing to follow it. Keep up your fight no matter how depressing it becomes, even when it seems as though there is no rational thought to be found anywhere.
    You will be surprised one day when you look back and see an army of sane, rational, logical people behind you, the kind of people that believe in laissez-faire capitalism. (Translation for the sheep, in part, – the philosophy of avoiding government controls in economic matters)
    You gained this old drivers respect and there’s a lot more of us out there.
    To all the sheep that signed the letter I say, it won’t be long now fellows so watch out for that headlight, it gets a bit closer every day.
    Here’s an idea – instead of wasting your time berating a woman for speaking the truth, read something by Ayn Rand, trust me you’ll hate it but, I’m sure you wouldn’t begrudge an old driver such a good laugh after 42 years in this industry!
    To the publisher of Truck News – Thank you for printing both sides of the story. Please keep it up, no matter how much the sheep cry.

  9. Anita says:

    Yes, Laura, congrats on your insight and grace with which you respond to such a hot topic.
    As for you Lou, I have now lost all respect. I felt that your original editorial was overkill, now I think that you really and truly don’t know who you work for. You may not know it but you work for the people who actually drive the trucks, not the ones who advertise in your publication, not the ones who own large trucking companies, but your customer/boss is the men and women who drive our highways everyday and who through their professionalism and experience, do know what’s going on out there, it’s a real shame that you are blinded by your quest to spark controversy that you may have lost a lot of respect from the very people that you profess to represent.

  10. Jim Nuxoll says:

    Why stop limiting the trucks,lets go one step further and put limiters on all cars (the real problem on the roads) at least that will reduce the accidents, save the enviroment,ETC….
    Polititions dont give a crap about the peoples opinions, all they care about is if they will get voted in the next term. This issue has nothing to do with any of the results of slowing trucks down. It all has to do with can I get enough votes out of this. Any one who thinks Limiting trucks, will produce any of the results they are expecting without manditory of slowing down all the cars with limiters also, has either got their Heads stuck in the ground or they are a politition. Naturally Polititions wouldn’t think of this solution, not only would they have to do more work,but they would have to except the fact that there are less trucks on the roads, resulting in less votes.Its too bad noone listens to the working class people anymore.

  11. I understand that the Government of Ontario wants to impose speed limiters on trucks to decrease accidents as well as GHG emissions, but why is Bill 41 just targeting trucks? The Bill seems to discriminate. Why are buses or other commercial vehicles not included? Why are cars excluded? There are more cars on the road contributing to GHG emissions, traffic congestion and accidents. By limiting the speed of trucks and not limiting the speed of cars that sends a signal that it is OK for motorists to break the law by exceeding the speed limit. And now, because of the difference between car and truck speeds, I believe that a greater number of accidents will occur as motorists try to pass more trucks. (I know that an article that you posted makes a different claim based on information from Australia).
    I think a better solution to decrease accidents, emissions and traffic congestion is to implement dedicated truck lanes on highways similar to the HOV lanes that exist for car pooling. Professional drivers sharing the road with other professional drivers makes sense.
    The issues of traffic congestion, GHG emissions and accidents are a result of an increased population. Resolving these issues benefits all of us, therefore those involved in the problem need to be included in providing a solution.
    In the last three decades, trucks have decreased their emission of chemicals that cause GHG by more than 98% by implementing new technologies such as particulate filters, fairings, APUs as well as in cab computers and software that monitor driver behaviour, idling and engine performance. Can that be said for cars or buses? Why are car manufacturers or bus manufacturers and operators not subject to the same scrutiny or rules?
    We share the road and we all need to share the responsibility to be active in providing solutions.

  12. don says:

    Enforcement, enforcement!!! when driving through some states it’s not surprising to get a ticket 65mph in a 60mph so most drivers obey the speed limit. here they know if u do 115 kmh or 120kmh the likely hood of being stopped is minute at best. Most professional drivers know how driving a little slower will save you money in the end and will drive accordingly. These same drivers have also spec’ed out their tractors to have peak performance at a certain speed/rpm ratio for the job they are performing and with a subtle change it could actually decrease fuel mileage in some situations. The expense to have their units recalibrated or have new rear ends put in can be enough to send an operator over the edge. So in that aspect i would recommend (just like when abs came in or auto slacks) that this law be adjusted for any power unit bought after ???? and be enforced for all commercial vehicles including buses.
    I also agree that the government should be enforcing some type of APU’s as this is quite likely a bigger issue in regards to emissions and waste of fuel. How many times have we seen that those modern deisels just idling away with no one in it or near it? Todays modern engine don’t need the same warm up or cool down periods that the older models did and if your unit won’t start in -10 degrees then there is more of an issue with the tractor and it should have maintenance department check it out.
    But again i have to say to all drivers (cars, buses, transports) what’s the hurray any ways? The 5 minutes longer it takes to reach your destination could/will save you 5%-10% fuel when applied allowed with proper driving procedures.

  13. Mike Cator says:

    i have been a professional driver over 30 years .clean cvor and abstract with no incidents. i have been an owner-operator for 9 years.i think my clean record speeks for itself and i regulate my own speed.many times a driver needs to speed up to go around a potential problem that thay can see is developing.105 is fine most times but if you can’t speed up around the problem then your part of the problem.i for one decided if this crappy law is enforced then the industry looses another professional.30 years regulating myself should speek for itself. regards.Mike Cator.

  14. Corey says:

    I have an idea, why don’t all drivers just ignore this stupid laughable speed limiter law and not ever bother to activate their limiters…then if they are inspected or whatnot, they can just say” the government and the OTA can kiss my a**”(long and slowly too). Nothing like a huge widespread protest to make people sit up and take another look.
    All politicians are one thing and one thing only: little children. By pandering to a criminal organization such as the OTA(I call them criminal because they only care about owners/CEOs and have the utmost contempt and loathing for the common driver..they think that they can can one driver one minute and there are more suckers out there to replace him/her the next), they have proven once and for all that big business really runs the whole show. I must applaud Albertas recent decision not to implement a law like this, that was wise.
    I’m glad I left the industry and I won’t be looking back for a long long time. Wonder why there is a driver shortage out there everybody? Look around you….

  15. Bill Waugh says:

    Speed limiters are a complicated issue. As an occassional user of the 401 (when I’m in London to visit family) I can definitley attest to speeding trucks being a hazard on that highway. The problem is and I hate to say it, is not with the local drivers, most of the trucks that I’ve taken issue with are not only out of Province but usually out of Country.
    You definitley can reduce greenhouse gases by slowing your vehicle down for a vehicle properly geared to cruise at 65 mph (105 kph) every 1 mph over means a drop in fuel economy of .1 mpg. So if you are using more fuel you are creating more GHG’s simple as that.
    Now here is the kicker. You noticed I said a properly geared vehicle for a cruise speed of 65 mph, If your vehicle is geared to cruise at US Interstate speeds of 70 mph and you are forced to drive at 62 mph you could find that you have to drive a gear down to do it or find yourself out of the sweet spot for performance and fuel economy, either way both will reduce your fuel economy and increase GHG’s.
    So now what do you do? Well if the law is written (I have to admit I don’t know the actual wording of the law as I live out of province) that any new truck purchased after a certain date will require a speed limiter set at 100 kph, then it shouldn’t be a problem, you still should try to obey the speed limits anyway.
    If the law is written such that you must have a speed limiter set at a maximum speed of 100 kph regardless of when the truck was built, well then you may have a sizable expense to look forward to. You can check into a new gear set or switch your tire size to help bring your gearing closer to what you need to accomplish improved fuel economy while bringing your truck within spec’ or purchase a new truck spec’d for the new law. Depending how old the truck is you may also have to add a speed limiter.
    I would recommend you speak with your Truck Dealer or Engine Distributor to determine the correct gear spec for your equipment before doing anything drastic first though.

  16. Brian P. says:

    Re” Truck limiters – Ontario, ca
    When is the Ont govt going to realize that if you bought it, a truck brought it? I guess if they legislate larger trucks, then they might find themselves in hotter water than now – No food, no consumer goods, NO FUEL, and whatever else you can cram into a truck/trailer. It is out and out discriminatory to legislate speeds for large trucks, and conveniently “forget” buses, smaller trucks, construction equipment, and the big one…..Cars – including the wannabe pick-up trucks etc. I find that most of the vehicles which offend are gravel trucks – they display wanton disregard for ANY laws. Also if you insist on cutting speeds down to 55MPH for large trucks, you are asking for increased ghg, and discontent. I guess it’s about time for another blockade huh?

  17. R McMurren says:

    Every class 8 tractor with a Cat,Cummins,Detroit Diesel, or Mac built since 1988 has a built in speed limiter called the engine computer.It only requires 15 minutes with a laptop to type in the new speed.I am getting tired of hearing the excuse that it is going to cost thousands of dollars per truck. If trucks drop from 120 kph to 105 the savings in fuel and tires will be in the billions! True, a lot of owner operators specd their trucks to run at 1400 to run 70 mph and they are capable of running 120 mph. They may have to run 1 or 2 holes down to re-adjust the sweet spot until they buy a new truck with different specs or if they have a diff failure they can do it then. What really bothers me are the bad apples that continually pass me with loaded B Trains at 120-140 kph and give a bad name to the whole industry. Many of the large carriers that everbody is mad at already regulate their fleets at 105 because they know the savings!

  18. I think truckers do not speed too much. I think motorists in cars should be more courteous to OTR truckers because of the chances for accidents.

  19. Brad Brown says:

    I am very disappointed in your magazine. I thought you were better than this. I will never read it again. Seems to me that you’ve never driven or owned your own truck in your life and don’t even know what you’re talking about. Obviously you have a liberal view. It’s my truck and I feel that if I’ve paid $155,000 for it I should have the right to control my own limiter and not have the Ontario government tell me how to run my business. That said my truck doesn’t go over 102 km/hr because that’s were I get my best fuel mileage.

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *