The following is an open letter to Mr. Scott Smith, chairman of the Ontario Trucking Association:
Dear Mr. Smith:
In Truck News, I recently came upon an article entitled “Ontario Trucking Association endorses mandatory speed limiters for trucks.” From this article, it became apparent that you, Mr. Einwechter of Challenger and Mr. Seymour of Kriska, heartily agree to speed limiting and your reasons for supporting this limiting are as follows: Reduced fuel consumption; increased safety; reduced passing lane congestion; helps level the competitive playing field; and less stress for drivers.
As a fairly experienced driver, I can see a number of flaws in your reasoning. These arguments do not come from studies and statistics but from gut feelings, instincts and personal observation of the world around me.
I am constantly trying to improve my working world and am constantly talking with other drivers about the job and watching what goes on around me. Let’s take your reasons and examine them one by one.
Reduced fuel consumption: Talk to any driver who travels Atlantic Canada on a regular basis and he/she will tell you that speed limiters will not work in anything but flat, level terrain.
Those who regularly use cruise control in Ontario and Quebec turn it off as soon as they leave Hwy. 20 in Quebec and head down Hwy. 185.
One driver told me that keeping his speed locked at 100 km/hr cut his fuel mileage by 20 per cent. Not having the ability to increase his speed and take a run at hills forced him to work his truck longer and harder in every hill. The truck now had to drag the loads over the hills rather than have momentum do a lot of the work for it.
Increased safety: Have you considered the effect hours of monotonous, speed limited driving will have on the driver? Drivers will become very bored and bored drivers become sleepy drivers and we all know that sleepy drivers eventually become statistics.
Reduced passing lane congestion: When was the last time that you spent more than a couple of hours on the highway? Take a good look the next time you are out there.
Most of the truck congestion in the passing lanes is caused by speed limited trucks – I know because I drive one of them.
Most truckers out there are paid on a per mile basis and don’t like to slow down for anything, so when they come upon a vehicle that is slower than them they pull out to pass regardless of how little the speed difference is.
I have seen instances where it has taken almost 10 kilometres for one truck to pass another.
In an ideal world, all speed limited trucks would travel at exactly the same speed and we would all travel in neat little lines up and down our highways but this world is less than perfect.
Differences in tire wear, speedometers, calibration of sensors, etc. cause tiny differences in speed that no amount of fiddling can even out, so the race is on.
Helps level the competitive playing field: Now this is a real can of worms. Some companies believe that higher speeds help keep them competitive and they adjust their operating system to that, while others believe that regulated speed and closely regulated departure and arrival times makes them more competitive – who is right?
It all depends on how they play their respective games and how time sensitive their loads are. In this case, you will have to do more than limit speeds.
Obstacles will have to be removed from highways, heavy traffic will have to banished, bad weather will have to be eliminated, shippers and receivers will have to adjust their timetables, ferries to and from places like Newfoundland will have to be hurried along, and the list goes on.
Less stressful for drivers: As a driver who has already had one heart attack and keeps a fairly close eye on his blood pressure, I can tell you this isn’t so.
Take me out of my truck that is locked at 100 km/hr and put me in a rental that is locked at 115 km/hr and my blood pressure drops.
Put me back in my 100 km/hr truck and my blood pressure goes back up.
From personal experience and talking with other drivers, I can assure you that driving a speed limited truck is extremely aggravating and frustrating.
We have no extra speed for passing or running at hills, we are at the mercy of every fiendish-minded four-wheeler out there and those truckers who now have a little extra speed will have to take a cut in pay because of reduced miles per hour. How this can be less stressful is beyond my comprehension.
That is just the five reasons that you have listed. Here are several others that you haven’t considered yet:
Road rage: There seems to be an epidemic of this these days. Just imagine it becoming much worse. You are now going to have a bunch of drivers out there who are fed up with their jobs because of the speed limiters and a bunch of four-wheelers who are even more fed up with the increased congestion in the passing lanes. I can see a dramatic increase in the number of fatal accidents on our highways.
Increased transportation costs: Once introduced in Ontario, it will be quite some time before the speed limiting legislation is introduced across North America.
In the meantime, truckers in other provinces and states will try to avoid coming to Ontario.
To circumvent this, carriers will demand higher rates for anything being shipped into Ontario so that they can offer higher rates to try and entice owner/operators to take loads into our dear province.
Lost revenue: Owner/operators who normally travel through Ontario to points East, West and South will now avoid it like the plague.
This will mean a loss of tax revenue for the provincial government and a loss of general revenue to truck stops and other trucking service industries.
These are just a few of the potential problems that I see with speed limiters. In an ideal world they may work but in our less-than-perfect world, the box that contains this has ‘Pandora’ written all over it. n
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