TORONTO – It’s barely over a year since mandatory speed limiter enforcement kicked-off in Ontario and Quebec and their impact on highway safety, for better or worse, is still difficult to assess.
It’s true, we haven’t seen a remarkable epidemic of rear-end collisions as a result of the speed differential between cars and trucks; but there has been an obvious increase of elephant races on two-lane sections of highway.
Are the highways any safer? Not noticeably, no, but that’s probably because the overwhelming majority of truckers respected posted speed limits before governors were required.
While they’re currently working on an internal review to measure the impact of the rule, Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) officials tell us that they don’t have the data available right now to determine the effectiveness of mandatory speed limiters. They have, however, "heard positive comments from various groups and individuals indicating that the speed limiter program is working and that trucks seem to be slowing down."
The MTO says that as of last month, it had conducted approximately 11,000 inspections, with the speed-limiter compliance rate at almost 90 percent — five percent higher than when the law first took effect.
Back then, there were only a handful of engine code readers, called EZ-Tap devices, in the province. MTO now says there are about 30 currently in use by inspectors. Police agencies like the OPP have also purchased several of the same readers and are conducting separate roadside speed limiter checks.
What hasn’t appeared to change much, though, is the ability of the ministry to properly ensure the truck is actually limited to 105 km/h.
As Today’s Trucking first discovered last summer, the EZ-Tap devices had only the capability to display set engine speed data, cruise, and horsepower rating and not other calibrations like rolling radius of the tires, RPM, transmission and gear ratios, and drive axle differential — all of which can affect the actual road speed of the truck.
In other words, a truck can physically reach road speeds above the 105 km/h limit and still be compliant as determined by the EZ Tap device.
Only proprietary OEM code reader tools and software are known to be able to read many of those parameters, although the MTO hasn’t been very clear on what the EZ-Tap can actually do. (Inquiries to the manufacturer were not returned).
Today’s Trucking asked the ministry if the devices have since been upgraded to read additional component calibrations that were not visible before. We were told that they had been, but when pressed on the specific parameters, officials backed off slightly, stating "EZ Tap currently used by enforcement officers reads certain parameters of the ECM. The only parameter that MTO relies upon is the throttle control speed limit. Other parameters are not relied upon."
And: "EZ Tap or other similar code reader will continue to be used and may be upgraded by enforcement personnel from time to time. It is inappropriate to provide details of any specifics of those upgrades."
Owner-operator Business Association of Canada’s Joanne Ritchie, who has been battling MTO and proponents of speed limiters since they were first proposed, says it appears the rule still has major "flaws" but the "charade" of enforcement continues.
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