Still ticked about speed limiters? Direct your anger where it’s deserved.

I thought I was done writing about speed limiters for a while, but editorial director Lou Smyrlis’ latest blog and its responses have compelled me to address the issue once again. Based on the phone calls and e-mails I’ve received in recent weeks, it appears hard enforcement of Ontario’s speed limiter law has fanned the flames and sent the law’s critics into an uproar.
It seems everyone is still determined to beat the system. Some drivers are carrying waivers and asking MTO inspectors to take responsibility for any damage that occurs to the ECM during inspection. The result: A fine. Others are sealing off the plug-in slot, warning that whoever breaks the seal is responsible for damage. The result: A fine. I’ve been told some are even – and I hope this isn’t true – jury-rigging the plug-in slot so it delivers an electrical surge that can destroy the inspector’s reader. Not only is this dangerous, but the result: Most definitely a fine. See a pattern?
You can try every trick in the book to deter inspection officers from enforcing this law, but the end result is that you’re still going to get a fine. Can you afford it? Or would it be more reasonable to comply and adapt and move on?
Hey, I’m not telling you how to run your business – but isn’t it time to ask yourself that question? Also, is it really fair to be challenging the inspection officers who in most cases are just out there doing their jobs – just like you? This law has been dumped into their laps and I’m sure many of them would prefer not to have one more thing to worry about. Don’t direct your anger at the inspection officers.
‘No problem there,’ you say, ‘my anger is directed squarely at the Ontario Trucking Association, which dreamt up this harebrained scheme in the first place.’ Listen, I don’t like Bill 41 any more than any of you and I think the time and resources that were spent developing and endorsing this policy over the past five years could’ve been better spent. But having said that, is the OTA really to blame?
Consider this: The sole purpose of the OTA is to represent its members. Those members, for the most part, wanted to mechanically limit truck speeds in the province to 105 km/h. You can question their motives – was it really done with safety and the environment in mind, or for competitive reasons? I have my own opinion on that. But what you can’t question is that the OTA has done a remarkable job at representing its members’ interests and guiding this law through all the legislative hurdles. Who really thought it stood a chance when the OTA first announced its intentions in November, 2005? Not me.
Regardless of what you think about the OTA, it’s a successful, powerful and well-run lobby group that gets things done on behalf of its members. And as far as I know, it’s not an exclusive club. If you run a trucking company – big or small – I doubt very much that the OTA would refuse your membership dues. Would your opinions carry as much weight around the boardroom table as those of the bigger fleets that play a more active role in the association? Maybe not, but at least you would be heard. At least you’d be part of the process. I’m tired of the argument that the OTA represents only mega-fleets and has an agenda to beat down the little guys.
Now if you still want to be angry about Bill 41, then by all means, go right ahead. I don’t blame you. But at least direct your anger where it’s deserved: Queens’ Park. The Liberal government should take 100% of the blame for ushering in this law without first arming itself with all the information, namely the Transport Canada studies that were not long from being released when the law was passed.
It’s worth noting that between 2005 and 2009, Elections Ontario financial records show these same Liberals received over $30,000 in donations from the OTA. I’m not suggesting the Liberals were “bought” – I’m sure $30K is a drop in the bucket for the Ontario Liberals. But was it enough to grease the wheels? It does raise some interesting questions, especially considering the law seemingly went through the entire legislative process pretty much untouched by our entrusted lawmakers.
Frank Klees, a pretty clever Conservative MPP who was opposed to the speed limiter law, read the following during the debate in the Legislature: “I received an e-mail that, quite frankly, concerned me as a member of this Legislature and as a former minister…I’d like you to listen to this, Speaker, because you will be interested, as will any other member of this Legislature, to know the arrogance with which some stakeholders approach this place: ‘As for the amendments, we have none, and in fact I would go further and say that we would be very strongly opposed to any amendment. This is our bill. Every period, every comma, every semicolon was put there by us, and we would be very, very unhappy were it to be amended in any way’.”
If he was referring to the OTA, then good on ’em. As a lobby group, they managed to draft a policy and then guide it through the legislative obstacle course right through to fruition, virtually untouched. That’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment and I have nothing but respect for the OTA for getting it done. Score one for OTA – who wouldn’t want an organization like that in their corner?
But the bottom line is, it never should’ve happened that way, yet the Liberals allowed it to happen. They didn’t do their due diligence. They didn’t arm themselves with all the facts. They didn’t give speed limiter opponents the opportunity to properly prepare and state their cases. I was at the so-called public hearings and they were a farce. OOIDA had 10 minutes to explain its position. Some of the Liberals on the committee tapped away at their Blackberries during the hearings. They were disinterested in the proceedings – their minds were made up. Transport Minister Jim Bradley and his underlings were little more than puppets on a string and if you believe the anti-speed limiter rhetoric, then it would be fair to say that they got thoroughly bamboozled.
So what can you do? Vote. You’ll have to wait til 2011 to do so, but that’s the best course of action. Don’t harass MTO inspection officers. Don’t dig your heels in and vow to fight every ticket unless you can afford to pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in fines. And don’t blame the OTA. If you want revenge, then vote in the next provincial election. There’s a perception out there that truckers don’t vote – prove them wrong. Be heard.
But even then, don’t expect Bill 41 to be undone. It’s been speculated lately that the Conservatives, if elected, would overturn Bill 41 or ‘order a review’ (as if that wording itself isn’t a cop-out). If you haven’t guessed, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a card-carrying Conservative. Yet, if elected, I wouldn’t expect the Conservatives to make overturning Bill 41 a priority. First, they’d have to win the election and they’ll be hard-pressed to do so in Ontario. Next, they’d have to risk alienating the public by reversing a law that on the surface, let’s face it, slows big trucks down. You really think that’s going to happen? Not likely. Many of you vow to fight this law to the end and I wish you luck.
However, you may save yourself a lot of aggravation by simply laying down your sword and adapting to the new reality. Professional drivers have proven their resilience over the years – life will go on in a speed limited world. But keep that sword handy, because in 2011 you’ll have your chance to wield it once more, and take aim at the appropriate target.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • You have stated the facts and although many might not like them they appear to be bang on James well stated, I have moved on from this situation and consider it a done deal. Obviously many feel the need to try and outsmart the mouse trap; the resources of the government almost always win out in the end though.
    Why put so much effort into a piece of repressive legislation like this when If the same effort was given to a proper mandated entry level driver training program, how much better would this industry be off, I got to admit it disappoints me, but we truck on.
    Ray Haight

  • so what would you call these liberals that turn a deaf ear to to all those opposed to this useless speed limiter law in Quebec.I would say they are the communist,socilist dictators with disfuntional minds that should be run out of canada.someone needs to lower the boom on them if you know what I mean.They are an allegal government should be dealt with in the same manner a criminal is deal with.they are a a curse to us and they are cursed.They have taken away our freedom to make the right decisions.I can,t see god having mercy on their souls when they are that corruped.their reward will be the lake of fire in hell.

  • I have heard a lot of complaining about this law. Why don’t all the truck drivers against this law get in their trucks and go down to Ottawa…Opps already been done, sorry low blow.
    Not to many truck drivers out there are willing to take a day off to fight something that they may feel is the right thing to have.
    A lot of great and professional drivers have made comments on being professionals, why don’t they take a day off and help a beginner driver. Take them under their wing and teach them how to be professional. Teach them what to look for, what not to take, bad people to look out for, how to handle and stay compliant with their logs, pre-trips…etc.
    I think everyone has had ample opportunity to let their voices be heard. And yet, now that the law has been passed, some truck drivers are bent out of shape.
    If you do not like the law, take the proper steps to knock it down. Get out of the “coffee shop complaining committee” and get active.

  • Why has this particular piece of legislation raised such an uproar? These types of hair-brained rules and regs have been going on for years!
    Some say “you are taking my right to choose away” BALONIE! Think back to helmet laws, seat-belt laws etc., etc.
    All the whiners gave up any perceived rights they may have had when they voted for the screwballs at Queens Park that make the rules, or by joining a dictitorial and arbitrary organization such as the O.T.A.
    You knew exactly what you were going to get, and now you’ve got it!

  • I can only urge every canadian driver whether your company man or owner operator,to do as I have,join OOIDA. They do have some muscle as seen lately when as a direct effort from OOIDA,Ohio ended their split speed limit,allowing rigs to run 65mph up from 55. As sad as it maybe for a USA organization to have to fight our battle for us,they have taken up the cause,sighting it goes against free trade and is an obstacle to the free flow of commerce.They state the truth,that split speeds (cars and trucks)travelling at different speeds is DANGEROUS.Cars rear ending tractor trailers could increase,oh and lets not forget the OTA’s next agenda,doubles travelling at 90kph!! As for the editors comments that the OTA is not to blame,but its the liberals at queens park-BULL —-! NUMBER 1-Anyone who continues to support the far left liberals,when they refuse to listen to reality,by voting them back time after time is to blame. You want a European way of life here soon,KEEP IT UP. I could really get into that,but I’m trying to keep this short. NUMBER 2-YES,(hes partially correct)the liberals at queens park.NO SURPRISE HERE,anytime we talk about killing our freedoms and rights,the liberal party is in the same sentence. NUMBER 3- To blame is THE ONTARIO ANTI TRUCKING ASSOCIATION,with Mr.Bradely at the helm.This pro european, pro big business,anti owner operator group is indeed responsible for this.Their big business canadian trucking company CEOs( we know who they are)empty suites,sitting at the round table,dreaming this crap up,getting the libs to go for it(not a hard sell for this kind of suff)is to blame.If they would spend as much time running their own business,as they try to do in making operational decisions for ours…I say to the editors,The people are not stupid,so quit selling them on we cant win,time to comply,government always wins…I say to the truckers,where does this stop?If not this law then what’s next,when you cant pass at all,because your impeeding traffic?OOPS!! I JUST GAVE THEM THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION FOR THEIR NEXT SECRET MEETING!SORRY! If you get a ticket or run across any problems at the scales over this garbage,OOIDA wants to hear from any of us at or 1800-444-5791 good from canada.Take care out there and run safely.David Young.

  • The best of INTENTIONS are not always the best laid plans. However in this case, If the speed limit is 100KMH and the police within reaosn allow 105KMH I must be missing something. We are legally alloiwng trucks to break the law. Train Train Retrain educate and educate some more. The best system can show by slowing down to 100KMH from 105 KMH how much money a driver can save over a year. On an 8000 KMH trip they would only loose 24 minutes. Yet save money on FUEL Maintenance costs and in the end stress as well. Educate our fleets and our drivers. From the NEWEST TO THE OLDEST. It is funny how the biggest ocmplainers is O/O. Yet once we showed them time money and expenses they stopped complaining right away. THIS IS A NO WIN ARGUMENT AND CAN BE DEBATED UNTIL DEATH DO US PART.

  • Kevin SNobel yes doing a study on truck speed will show savings at a lower speed
    but if you the driver dont get to where you need to be before 5,00pm on friday
    you do not get loaded so a small decrease in fuel milage for a week end out of town
    away from famaily is a no brainer try driving trucks and you will see for your self

  • All truckers, independent owner/ops and small business alike; be advised. As single voices in the mainstream of dissent to government, your voices are relatively unheard or ignored. Join the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (C.F.I.B.)(NON PROFIT/TAX DEDUCTABLE). These people are the most Pro-Active Lobbyists for their members that I have ever encountered. Polls are taken democratically by member vote tally, ( yes, one of the LAST TRUE democratic processes I have seen in society lately), and actively lobby the government on the MAJORITY of votes of their members’ behalf.
    Individually, we are NOTHING to these Provincial & Federal bean-counters. Organized together by the CFIB, we are a force to be recognized, AND HEARD!(265,000 members) Bureaucrats require guidance. Start Now!

  • Let’s see 24 minutes, hmmm, 24 minutes could mean the difference between hitting Atlanta’s loop at 3:45 P.M and 4:09 P.M. I don’t know about you but I would rather be there at 3:45 and not 4:09. Then again you have probably only seen Atlanta rush hour in a video. I get sick and tired of someone who drives a car and and keyboard for a living telling me the best way to run my truck. If I wanted performance at 105 km/h I would have spec’d my truck that way. Since I run mostly in the U.S where they’re speed limits are 105 and above I spec’d my truck to perform it’s best around 115 km/h. In ontario I run roughly 110 km/h, it gives me the ability to stay ahead of slower traffic and get out and pass that B-train load of lumber, that is if I can get you driving your car to let me out to pass because you are running around 120 km/h in a 100 km/h zone. So before you preach to me how about you run along and govern your car for 1 week and 105 and let me know if it is relaxing. Or are you frustrated and miserable because all those cars are holding you in the slow lane behind that truck climbing that hill at 90 km/h or less.

  • Don’t know why the gov’t is sticking their noses into an industry that’s already overgoverned. I was under the impression that all heavy trucks were already equipped with “speed limiters” from the manufacturers ie: governors. I remember driving for a national courier co back in the late ’80’s and most of the hiway tractors I drove were already governed @ between 105 & 110 kmh. And most of the drivers commented that this was bordering on “unsafe”. But they did it for fuel conservation if nothing else. If our gov’t wants to enforce this practice, why not put these “speed limiters” on ALL vehicles. Not just heavy trucks, where its a proven fact that our professional drivers are probably the safest drivers on our highways & biways. Who needs to go 200+ kmh on the hiway? If you’re in that much of a hurry to get to your destination, take a train or plane. Save that kind of speed for the drag strip. As far as I’m concerned, the best “speed limiter” is still your right foot, or your cruise control button if you can’t control your foot {or your common sense}. Our law enforcement agencies already have enough on their plates ie: lack of manpower, resources etc without adding something else for them to “govern”. I think our tax dollare would be better spent if our governing bodies went after the vehicle manufacturers and forced them to govern ALL vehicles to a reasonable speed.How much time does one actually save by going those speeds anyway? 5-6 min at the most? Is it worth jepordizing everyother life @ vehicle that’s sharing the same roadway, to say nothing of your own life? The ones that feel a need to go these speeds, must either have more money to spend on fuel than the majority of us, or have unlimited access to the fuel reserves or they’re on a suicide mission, in which case they shouldn’t be on the road in the first place. All I can say is “SLOW DOWN” guys. Use your right foot and your common sense as your speed limiter. And to the gov’t, keep your noses out of a profession that is already overgoverned by all your rules & regulations. Our professional drivers have enough to worry about without you guys adding more fuel to the fire. And like I stated earlier, if the gov’t really wants to get control of the speed issue, stop picking on truckers as a fix. The real issue is not the men & women of our trucking industry, but the gov’ turning a blind eye to the manufacturers of the 4 wheelers and allowing them to keep manufacturing engines that are capable of attaining these excessive speeds. I’m proud to be associated with the trucking community, and my hat goes off to each & every professional driver on our hiways & biways just “trying to do their job”. So, in conclusion, to the gov’t, stop picking on an industry that is not only overgoverned, but is among the safest out there, and start focusing on the real issue at hand. Start slowing the 4 wheelers down, and maybe our highways will be once again safe to travel on.

  • Hey Snobel – what makes you think that an indepependant business owner with a $150,000 investment (or more)needs to be told by you that driving at 100 kph is more fuel efficient than at 105, 110 or 120.
    We figured that out many moons ago. There are only a few cowboys left that still do that, and eventually they will be weeded out when proper police enforcement finally comes into play.
    Talk about missing the point! It’s not about the speed, it’s about government interference in my life that I am complaing about. Certain organizations that pretend to be working for the trucker are in fact the biggest hindrance!
    It’s your kind of thinking that portrays all truckers as morons instead of the independant businessmen/women that they are.

  • I believe that most of the complaining here is due to being told to slow down. Every thing said is what if I was at the Atlanta Loop. What if I was late by 15 minutes. “What if…I have been tail gated by trucks that are late for a delivery and let me tell you gents that it is no picnic. 90000 lbs of truck and load on my butt at 110 km and the trucker wants me to speed up. Could this be a possiblity for an accident or worse a fatality. Darn right. So let’s keep putting our foot in our mouths and say it again” let me go faster in case I am late or don’t want to get caught up in a city Loop”. I am sure that most excuses that the police here from someone when caught speeding is just that …I am late…

  • James, your right! It’s no good trying to beat the law at this point, speed limiters are in whether we like it or not! While the discussion is still heated pro or con as to the validity of speed limiters we should remember how the idea got started in the first place?
    The trucking industry and the OTA was under huge pressure at the time from the government to improve safety on the 400 series highways, the result of a public outcry over two major 400 series crashes that cost lives and millions of dollars in lost revenues and clean up. Trucks running to fast for road conditions at the time of these accidents was considered a contributing factor.
    The industry was also facing escalating fuel costs and a huge boarder crossing issues, so limiters “killed two birds with one stone” for the carriers.
    I was not in favor of speed limiters as I believe that any restriction of power at highway cruising speeds removes a tool from the driver’s collision avoidance tool box, potentially limiting his capability to take necessary evasive action! In addition, recently I sat behind an 18 wheeler for a good 6 minutes, doing 105 KPH in the overtaking lane whilst driving back from Halifax! The driver was trying to overtake another truck which was obviously also limited to 105. They were going up a long gradual incline and I guess neither driver wanted to loose any momentum causing them to gear down to a slower speed. The speed limit posted on this stretch of highway was 110 KPH.
    This aside, in retrospect, I believe speed limiters became the choice of the OTA and its members because they had no other choice at the time. However, I know that other anti collision ideas were looked at such as used in Europe and Asia. These countries do have transports running with some very sophisticated collision avoidance devises, such as, automatic speed adjustment linked to forward looking distance measuring radar. While such devises would reduce collisions this equipment was not available in North America. It would have been too costly and taken to long for manufactures to introduce such equipment which they likely would not have done anyway for Ontario only!
    So, until our industry catches up with this new technology, implements some of this more sophisticated collision avoidance equipment and until our driver training includes mandatory, simulated collision avoidance training, I feel limiters will be with us for some time.
    Alan Masters, MCG

  • I have been a long haul driver for 30 years 24 of them running into the U.S I don’t believe we needed limiters we needed enforcement! If some of the drivers complaining about limiters planned better obeying the law would not be a problem. I drove a governed truck most of the time,so I made allowances, I didnt hang around the house all day Sunday if I had to be in Chicago 8:00 A.M Monday I left in time to get within an hour of my customer get my 10 and be ready to go Monday.The Ontario Govt is always crying for more money if they used the money spent on getting this bill thru to hire more highway patrols they would have done more to make the highways safer than limiters ever will.B.J Plummer