Truck News


Limiters: It’s Now The Law

TORONTO, Ont. - Educational enforcement in Ontario and Quebec for the newly passed speed limiter law kicked off Jan. 1 with a whimper, with industry insiders providing little feedback, beyond some sca...

TORONTO, Ont. –Educational enforcement in Ontario and Quebec for the newly passed speed limiter law kicked off Jan. 1 with a whimper, with industry insiders providing little feedback, beyond some scattered grumbling, on what’s happening when the rubber hits the road.

“We don’t have any figures yet to provide, as enforcement officers have only been conducting speed limiter inspections since January 1,” says Ontario Ministry of Transportation spokesman Bob Nichols. “But officers with speed limiter training are actively conducting speed limiter inspections to monitor compliance levels.”

According to Nichols, there has been no increase in the number of MTO enforcement officers for the initiative. But speed limiter reading technology is up and running at 14 locations along the 400-series highways, including the 401 in Ontario.

Quebec, for its part, is also holding off on full enforcement -including the issuing of fines and speeding tickets -until July. In the meantime, inspectors will be testing handheld ECM reading devices, mostly at weigh stations, over the next few weeks. Only warnings – no tickets – will be issued in Quebec until July 1, says MTQ (Ministry of Transport Quebec) spokesman Paul Jean Charest.

But in Ontario, roadside inspectors are already using handheld ECM reading devices to check engine settings and issuing warnings to the owners of vehicles not in compliance with the 105 km/h speed limiter setting, devices which Doug Switzer of the Ontario Trucking Association says were tested prior to Jan. 1 on willing participants.

“Trucks are being checked at inspection stations,” says Switzer. “And, in theory, a truck could be pulled over for an inspection if the driver is caught going over 105 km/h.”

Out-of-province commercial vehicles will have to stop and have their speed limiters set before entering Ontario and Quebec, says Switzer, adding many carriers from outside the two provinces have already decided to set their speed limiters lower anyway.

“We’ve gotten calls from companies in the States and outside Ontario asking what the new setting is,” says Switzer. “Most of them were already governing speed. So it wasn’t a huge deal for them.”

While Switzer admits drivers and owner/operators are quickly learning ways to fudge their ECMs to reflect a compliant speed limit, he says inspectors have been trained to recognize the signs.

Still, some carriers prefer the traditional approach to speed enforcement – that is more troopers on the roads.

“Nobody drives too fast in Ohio because when you drive too fast in Ohio you get a ticket,” points out Ray Haight, executive director of MacKinnon Transport of Guelph, Ont. and outgoing chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association. “This is just a sad reflection on the OPP.”

Haight says he’s heard little when it comes to major pushback on provincial highways against the new rule.

“We travel in and out of Ontario and Quebec 15 to 30 times per day and we haven’t been inspected for speed limiters. And even though they’re saying the police have automatic authority to pull over trucks that are speeding and bring them to a nearby inspection station for a speed limiter check, I haven’t heard of it happening. I think it’s pretty unlikely.”

Haight is not alone in his somewhat blase reaction to the enforcement of speed limiter legislation post January 1. In fact, reaction among carriers, many of whom already limit speeds on their trucks, ranges from resignation to outright enthusiasm.

“The O/Os complain about speed all the time yet some of them are the worst culprits for fuel consumption,” says Caravan Logistics general manager, Kevin Snobel. “We are trying to give the drivers every tool and assistance to help them operate more efficiently, safely and at a profit.”

“We have not seen any documentation or heard any reports from drivers on the enforcement of the speed limiters,” says Enno Jakobson, executive vice-president, Challenger Group. “I suspect the authorities have bigger fish to fry in this instance.”

“Most of our members use some type of speed control so there has not been much in the way of pushback on the legislation from them,” says Bruce Richards, president of the Private Motor truck Council of Canada. “PMTC’s position was and remains that truck speeding is not a major issue, and that a broader, more comprehensive approach should be taken to speeding of all vehicle types,” he adds, pointing to MTO statistics.

“The initial reaction when we first heard about the legislation was not much concern,” says Phil Cahley, director of policy and research for the Canadian Courier and Logistics Association.

Meanwhile, reaction to soft enforcement of speed limiter laws from truckers is far from blase, but when have truckers ever not taken the opportunity to make their opinions known?

“It’s the number one topic right now on channel 19,” says Harry Rudolfs, a driver for Purolator and a regular contributor to Truck News. “I left the CB open on my trip to Laval and back the last couple of nights and it’s a common discussion point. One Highland driver told me ‘It’s not going to affect me because that’s the way I drive, but I feel sorry for the guys running the states’.”

Rudolfs says other comments heard on his CB included: “It’s boring and stupid,””We might as well block all the lanes,” and “Gonna be accidents because guys can’t break away from the pack…They’ll all get lined up behind guys trying to pass and there will be accidents in bad weather.”

In other words, pretty much the same thing truckers have been saying since the OTA introduced the whole idea of setting speed limiters at 105 km/h in 2005.

It remains to be seen how the industry will react once true enforcement really does kick in, but many insiders suspect it won’t cause much of a rise in the US, where the American Trucking Associations is already lobbying the federal government to enact legislation limiting truck engines manufactured after 1992 at no more than 65 mph (104.5 km/h).

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