Things are warming up in Tampa

Well, the weather in Florida is gradually becoming more Florida-like and I think we’ve finally hit the 70s. The news here has also gotten hotter. Two significant announcements have come out of TMC thus far.
Firstly, Volvo announced it will cost about US$7,500 more for a Class 8 tractor in 2007. I had the chance to sit down with Mack president and CEO Paul Vikner yesterday morning and he agreed that the number Volvo threw out there is reasonable. It’s important to remember that it’s not only the cost of the engine that is reflected in that increased purchase price, but also the changes that must be made to the chassis to accommodate the new engines. The good news is – the engines should be fuel-neutral. Of course, much of that depends on application, and more information about that will be available in the April issue of Truck News.
The other major news announced at TMC is that the American Trucking Associations is launching its own speed limiter campaign – one that would see truck speeds mechanically limited to 109 km/h (68 mph) right across the U.S.
There were plenty of critics – myself included – that suggested U.S. carriers would never comply with the OTA’s plan to mechanically limit truck speeds in Ontario. Now, with the ATA launching a similar initiative, things are about to get very interesting.
Having said that, a report down here in the U.S. suggests that American carriers serving Ontario are concerned about the OTA’s proposal to limit truck speeds.
Bill Joyce, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association, told Transport Topics that U.S carriers serving Ontario “will have to pay a repair shop to have the (governor) microchip recalibrated to comply with the rule and have the chip recalibrated again when they cross back into the United States so they can drive the allowed speed limit on roads here.”
I’m not sure that’s true, as I saw a Cummins rep demonstrate how to adjust the governor first-hand and it was a pretty simple process. It took less time than it would take to order a coffee and all he needed was a handheld palm-pilot. But I’m confused as to why the ATA and OTA wouldn’t come up with a common proposal and launch it in unison? Why 105km/h versus 109 km/h and why November versus February? Harmonizing these two policies would have gone a long way towards bringing government onside – but then again, from what most of you are saying, it’s just as well it didn’t happen that way. It will be very interesting to see what driver reaction is from south of the border. Those of you who drive down there can respond to this blog entry and let us know what you think.
The ATA announcement certainly adds a new dynamic to the debate and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.
A full report about these latest developments will be available in the April issue of Truck News – and we fully expect to have a decision from the Ontario MoT by that time as well.
See ya at the next stop,

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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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  • James:
    Anyone that has been passed by a truck doing a hundred miles an hour knows something needs to be done about governing speed. I recall reading in Overdrive magazine a report of a truck clocked doing over a hundred and twenty miles an hours at night in the Texas Panhandle. There is a diesel shop that will boost the engine torque to about 1500 horsepower. Why would anyone need an engine that big unless they are in the heavy-haul business?
    One new driver told me his trainer would always drive between eighty and a hundred miles an hour; one time running a four-way stop doing a hundred while talking on his cell phone. This driver quit after two weeks.
    Most folks in the business for a while would agree the most economical speed to drive a truck has been 62 and a half miles an hour. However, I believe if today you run 63 mph across Ontario then you are going to get run over.
    The reason the ATA is coming up with their proposal now is that the OTA has taken a leadership position and that is a difficult proposition for us down here to take. I believe there is a vocal minority in the U.S. that wants to speed. For the last handed years the average speed of a vehicle in a city has been about 30 miles an hour. It doesn’t matter what your governor is set at – you are not going to get across town faster than that.
    Way to go OTA!

  • Good evening James,
    I’m surprised that you only mentioned two significant announcements in your blog.
    The price increase at Volvo and the speed limiter campaign are important topics, however,
    It’s All About Numbers opening up March 06 at the 730 Truck Stop is of significant importance as well. Perhaps moreso.
    🙂 Yes, I am saying this tongue-in-cheek. I am opening up a new accounting business specializing in Owner/Operators next month and, what the heck, trying to get as much publicity as I can.
    It’s going to be a few days before my web site is posted [did it myself so I apologize in advance for any errors etc], please feel free to check it out, and if warranted, mention me somewhere, anywhere 😉
    Have a great w/e!
    Kelly Liese Potvin

  • Hello James
    I think all vehicles commercial or otherwise will need governors set at the same speed right across North America. I have driven a commercial vehicle since 2001. I have personal experience with the states with lower speed limits on trucks than the posted speed limits for all other vehicles. I have had more near accidents when attempting lane changes when I am restricted to 55mph in a big truck and the rest of the traffic is doing 70mph versus states where posted speed limits are the same for all vehicles. I am willing to admit these near misses maybe my fault. However, are you willing to consider that the great distinctions in speed posting may have caused part of the problem. Come ride with through me Ohio and Michigan down the I75 to see for yourself.
    I have also personally viewed more multiple vehicle accidents in the states where trucks are limited to posted speeds below those of other vehicles. I will like to see statistics that can show our roads are safer with governors on some vehicles and not on others. I read an article last year in Truck News that quoted statistics that truck drivers were at fault less than 0.1% of the time in accidents that caused fatalities. That made me feel proud of the professional peers and inspired to be part of that figure being reduced to 0.01% or better yet 0%. So tell me who and what kind of vehicles are responsible for the other 99.99%? When you find that out please govern those vehicles and their drivers as rigidly as truck drivers are.
    My opinion is only based on what I have seen and experienced. If governors get legislated as being proposed I will not feel safe or feel the public is safer and will give strong consideration to leaving a profession I love. Governors will work I think if placed on all but emergency and police vehicles.
    Sincerely Yours
    Adrian Younger (AZ Driver)
    PS … the vehicle does not need a limit the person driving it does!

  • Wny do drivers work for peanuts?This may sound like a bold statment,but take a good look at the issue,if a driver has a bad day accident or a ticket he or she may not be able to drive his personal vechile to seek another field of work.I know the skeptics will say “well you should”nt put yourself in that position”but lets face it everybody has a bad day sooner or later.If unable to pay a fine your liecense will be revoked in Ont.most fines start at $390.00 that”s a third or half a drivers weekly wage.If a lawyer,plumber,pilot,doctor e.t.c.loses his/her license in their particular trade he/she can a least get in their car and seek other employment.He or she are paid at a higher rate why?Lets face it truck drivers are a highly skilled and specilized work force.Why are we paid so low?We are not entitled to overtime after 44 hours like the rest of the mainstream workforce.This one is a no brainer,trucking assocations and companies lobbied governments years ago claiming undue hardships along with hiding it in an antiquited system of paying by the mile or piece work.So what about the undue hardships suffered by drivers/ow/op’s?This speed limitation will futher erode drivers,ow/ops wages.Your average speed is going to drop,due to more congestion slower average speeds!Who is going to compensate you for lost revenue?We are a skilled work force,our work is just as momentous and in some cases strenuous as an auto worker,so why are we paid so little compared to an auto worker?We are the only workforce capable of shuting down the N.A. enconomy,but we can”t get along with each other i.e. he’s differant,he’s french,i’m a steel hauler he’s a freight hauler who cares quit your petty bickering!!!!!!!!!!!!!The future of a once proud industry is at stake here.I know I been on the road for 30 years.

  • Thanks for the comments, folks! That’s what this new feature is all about, creating a dialogue.
    Adrian, I agree with you, the ideal solution would be to limit the speeds of all vehicles. Unfortunately, that will never happen! The reaction from the public would be much like the reaction from professional drivers such as yourself – they would never accept such a proposal.
    The difference is, they represent a larger demographic than truckers do. Nearly everyone drives some sort of vehicle. There’s no way any lobby group or politician would even consider imposing electronic speed limiters on everyday motorists. Having said that, the roads would be a lot safer if every car, pickup truck or SUV was limited to 105 km/h.
    If that were the case, I’m sure professional drivers such as yourself would have an easier time swallowing this proposal.
    James, I agree that there’s a strong case to be made for paying drivers by the hour. There are a lot of dynamics in play here – it’s hard to change the pay structure of an entire industry overnight. However, if professional drivers were paid by the hour I believe it would accomplish two things: Improved highway safety, as drivers would no longer feel the need to fudge logbooks to meet unrealistic delivery times; and a partial solution to the driver shortage – providing hourly rates were in line with other skilled trade workers such as electricians, construction workers, plumbers and auto workers. This is something the industry should take a hard look at.

  • Controling of speed You can say all you like but only one thing limits your speed and that is the right foot.
    We can talk of all our plans and it is the right foot that pushes the fuel feed. But with that said many of the carriers will push there O/Os by taking on work when they know the time limits won’t allow it or take on cheap freight. With cheap freight the driver or O/O is under the impression they can make money with one more trip. This thinking is stuipd when I learned this lesson I would run 2 trips per week to New England and than I started to make money but it was too late my health gave out.
    If the speed limit is 100 km. than go 100km. you save fuel your own health and no fines.
    Once every one does that our rate of pay will raise and the best will get it.
    About a year ago I followed 2 Challanger Freight units up the 401 for 100 km. it was steady and there drivers were true professionals in there driving and I commented about to there safety dept. Was the Safety Man shocked no one does that. But just recetly while east bound on the 401 a unit from a large Ontario based Hardware chain was going in excess of 100 km and was right on my back bumper. I also reported it to there Safety by letter but no one seem to care.
    I guess the short of it we are own worst problem.

  • Hey guys interesting tidbit for you.In nov/05 CTV aired an article about Transport Canada expirmenting with speed limiters for cars and small vechiles.The way it works it is linked to GPS,EDMONTON and Ottawa have already been mapped out,a unit is placed in a car when the car travels down a street or highway and the posted speed limit is 50 kph thats all the car will do.A lot of people disbeleive me on this but check it out with CTV.Satistics for 2003 indicate some 20,600 Class A drivers received speeding tickets compared with some 587,000 Class G licence holders.Of those Class A convictions 60 percent were for speeding at lower end of the scale i.e.,up to 15 kmh over the limit as reported byBruce Richards Of The Truck News.So you be the judge where does the problem lie?If the government has this device available would’nt it make sense to use it on cars that are know to be operated by chronic speeders?Image some dude spending 70,000 or more on a fast car only to find it will only operate at the posted speed limit!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I know it would be hard to change the pay system of the entire industry overnight,but we can make a change like speed limiters that quick.This industry does need an overhaul,but speed limiters is not the place to start.Will speed limiters stop ramp rollovers,bad driving skills,or bad weather conditions ?You can wreck a truck at 30 mph!We have truck drivers out there that can’t even back in to a loading dock!Why is that could it be we have some driving schools out there pumping out drivers at the rate comparative to a puppy mill!Then road tested by MTO examiners who have never held an AZ or DZ licence,how can someone judge a person’s skills when they don’t even have themselves?Companies are at fault here to,in their rush to fill seats they are too quick to hand over a set of keys and bills and send a driver on his or her way.If the OTA and various comnpanies are intent on adapting the European model of trucking,why not use the entire model including paying all drivers by the hour for everything they do.Take it one step futher have all companies pay drivers by the hour at the same rate,remember level paying field.After all you’re going to tell them what speed to run.This would solve the driver retention problem!But like anything else you just pick the bits and pieces that favorb big companies interests.It is interesting to note the OTA’s so called “BLUE RIBBON FLEET”that is studying speed limiters does not show up on the Mto’s List of Excellant Carrriers!Drivers/ow/op’s don’t sit back on this issue pro or con voice yor opinion,whether it’s thru this blog or your MPP.

  • Well, it’s not yet clear whether the ATA is backtracking or whether their initial comments were misunderstood but what has become obvious is that their speed limiter proposal is a far cry from what the OTA is calling for.
    The ATA is simply asking that all manufacturers pre-set their engines to run at no faster than 68 mph. After that, the customer can do whatever he or she wants – the ATA is not asking that operators be required to keep their trucks limited to 68 mph.
    We’ll have more details about this in the April issues of Truck News and Truck West but it’s clear that these two proposals have very little in common. In fact, it would seem the ATA proposal is little more than a weak PR stunt.
    See ya at the next stop,

  • Are we workin with a double standard here?Case in point farmers block 401 OPP give them a police escort in the name of public safety,truck driver attempts to hamper flow of traffic he’s written a citation what’s the deal here?The most important artrery in the provinice of ont blocked,with the help of opp?Pick up loses fridge insecure load $190.00 big truck loses 4×4 insecure load $390.00 which has the can cause the greater harm?This one the OTA is really proud of check out their web site absoulte wheel liabity truck loses wheel up to$50,000 fine,car loses wheel driver chared unsafe vechile,which will kill or maine frankly if I was a crash test dummy I would stand in front of either.Speed limiters are available for cars and light vechiles Transport Canada has been testing devices linked to GPS THE SIGN SAYS 50 KPH THATS ALL THE VECHILE WILL DO.So why are we being singled out here?I’ll tell you why big companies want to stuff more profit in their pockets,remember anybody can drive a truck,that’s why we have the safety problems we do.That arrogant attitude anybody can drive a truck.

  • Lets face it speed limiters are a dollar and cents issue,big dollars for the good old boys down at the possum lodge on Dixon Rd.Cents that they are going to continue to pass down in the form of low wages for the drivers!If the OTA and the good old boys at the possum lodge were really committed to improving the safety on the highways and ensuring that everybody got home safetly,they would propose speed limiters for all vechiles not just a select group as they are now proposing,but in their infinite wisdom they have selected truck drivers as the targeted group.Why because they can’t find drivers to drive their trucks at their chosen speed,example challenger and liberty big supporters of speed limiters why then are their trucks still set at 68 mph,I know they are because I run the 401 corridor daily,wouldn’t we lead by example here?If you are going to talk the walk well then walk the walk!!!!!Their trucks are still set at 68 mph because they know they would lose freight and drivers.The OTA has proposed a dictatorship style way of doing business,so if we as a country are on this slope of dictatorship we might as well impose this the same all across the board .Transport Canada has already developed speed limiters for cars and small trucks which is linked to GPS,so Mr David Bradley and your cronies down at the possum lodge on Dixon Road if your proposal is really commited to highway safety and the betterment of the nations highway systems,when someone presents a Private Bill to the government proposing speed limiters for all vechiles I hope all of you will support that BILL!!!!!!EQUAL TREATMENT FOR ALL HIGHWAY USERS NOT JUST A SELECT TARGET GROUP!!!!!!!!!