LAVAL, Que. - It is show time at a check station on the southbound A-13 in Laval, just north of Montreal. A Controle routier Quebec carrier enforcement officer wriggles a little cube, barely an inch a...
TOOLS OF THE TRADE: A Quebec enforcement officer shows the connection device used to read a truck's speed limiter setting. And yes, it can read the cruise speed too. Photo by Carroll McCormick
LAVAL, Que. –It is show time at a check station on the southbound A-13 in Laval, just north of Montreal. A Controle routier Quebec carrier enforcement officer wriggles a little cube, barely an inch and a half on a side, into a jack under a truck’s dash. Much less than a minute later another officer inside the check station reads the speed limiter setting off of a computer screen. The warm officer radios a “c’est bon” verdict to the cold officer, and the truck is cleared to roll on.
As of late September 21 check stations in Quebec were outfitted with the gear to read the speed limiter setting off of trucks’ Electronic Control Modules (ECMs).The law requiring that trucks’ speed limiters be set at a maximum 105 km/h covers trucks manufactured after 1995 and with a GVW above 11,794 kgs.
Eventually, all Controle routier’s Quebec cars will be equipped with them too. But that is not to say that trucks with their speed limiters set higher than the legal maximum of 105 km/h can’t get dinged on the open highway.
If an officer paces a truck or clocks it going over 105 km/h, he can issue a speeding ticket to the driver and another ticket to the truck owner for not complying with the limiter setting. The fine for a first infraction is $350. Repeat offenders may get a ticket report and depending on the judgment of the prosecutor, the carrier can receive a fine of up to $1,000.
Controle routier Quebec selected a piece of gear called an Ez-TAP Truck Access Point, by Cloverdale, Indiana-based XscapeEz Ltd. to read the speed limiter setting off the ECM. The cube has no power source of its own. It is activated by the ECM. This ensures the Ez-TAP cannot change the ECM, according to Arnold Yetman, a carrier enforcement officer. The cube has a six-point plug, and comes with an adapter cord with a nine-point plug.
Ez-TAP pulls four pieces of information, or values, from the ECM and transmits them to a receiver inside the check station. From there they are forwarded to a desktop computer and pop up on a screen. The values are: Line 74: the maximum road speed limit; Line 87: cruise control high set speed limit; Vehicle ID number; and odometer, if that value is available. The page also shows the date and time.
Officers ran three checks while I was there. The first: Line 74=100 km/h and Line 87=100 km/h; the second, Line 74=103 km/h and Line 87=103 km/h; and the third, Line 74=105 km/h and Line 87=absent.
Some carriers will be dismayed to read that Ez-TAP also reads the cruise control setting. Officers have discovered that some sneaky carriers are setting Line 74 to 105 km/h -very nice -and Line 87 to a higher value -very naughty.
“A lot of carriers do not know that we also read Line 87.We have seen where Line 74 is set to 105 km/h and Line 87 was set to 120-130 km/h,” Yetman says. “I have also seen trucks with Lines 74 and 87 set at 150 km/h.”
The six-month grace period expired at the end of June.
From Aug. 1 to Sept. 18, Controle routier Quebec made 1,959 verifications: 511 trucks were not in compliance.
“We have basically been concentrating on Quebec and Ontario plates, because both provinces have the law. We want to concentrate on our own vehicles. At the same time this gives truckers from the United States and other provinces a chance to comply,” Yetman says.
Here is how an infraction plays out in real time: The first time a truck is stopped and the inhibitor is not set, the driver will get a ticket and will be allowed to drive off. Caught a second time, however, that truck must be inhibited before it is released back to the carrier. Most likely then, it will be impounded because there is only one company in Quebec that the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec has authorized to do the inhibitions on the road.
“In this instance, we would impound the vehicle until there was compliance. It is the carrier’s responsibility to pay for all the charges: about $25-$35/day for the impound. The truck can be towed to the impound or we can escort it there. If everyone is nice and follows our directions we usually will escort the trucks to the impound,” Yetman says.
In Yetman’s check station, officers are making checking the inhibitor part of their routine whenever they do an interception.
And yes, speed limiter compliance blitzes are being planned.