Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A plea from a ‘speed-limited’ Canadian trucker to U.S. regulators

We spilled a lot of ink the past few weeks writing about NHTSA and FMCSA’s joint proposal to mandate speed limiters on heavy vehicles. Maybe you read some of it and maybe you were among the 6,500-plus who took the time to file comments on the proposal. 

Many of the comments submitted offered thoughtful and well-reasoned arguments against the proposal, which would cap the speed of all vehicles with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more at either 60, 65 or 68 mph.

A few days after the comment period closed, I got a phone call from an Ontario trucker named Craig Gable. As you may know, Ontario has a speed limiter mandate in place that restricts trucks to about 65 mph within the province. It is universally unpopular with drivers I’ve spoken to who are from the region or have to travel through it regularly. And Craig was no exception. However, his reasons for hating the mandate were new to me and worth passing on, potentially as an omen of things to come if the agencies decide to move forward with the rulemaking process.

We’ll let Craig, who hauls dry van in Canada and in the U.S., take it from here in his own words:

“Driving in Ontario, what I’m seeing is all of the trucks clogging the two right lanes in three-lane roads, all more or less going the same speed,” he said. “And what’s happening is cars trying to enter and exit the highway are encountering this two-lane wall of trucks, all going more or less the same speed. So they have to adopt more and more aggressive driving techniques to break through this wall. … Most cars when they see these wolf-packs of trucks, they just put the pedal down and they’re by them.”

The way Craig sees it, governing big trucks at a slower speed than passenger cars “actively grooms aggressive driving in small vehicles” something he doesn’t think anybody foresaw when the mandate was passed in Ontario, and something he’s afraid the regulatory agencies in the States are overlooking with their proposed nationwide mandate.

“Right now drivers in the States are downright friendly compared to drivers in Ontario,” he told me. “I just want to see the States avoid the catastrophe that Ontario and Quebec (which also has a speed limiter mandate) are playing with now.”

Craig’s solution to help open people’s eyes up to the dangers proposed by speed limiters is a simple one: Those in favor should spend some time in the jump seat of a governed truck and see for themselves.

“If you need to change someone’s mind, have them tag along with a trucker who’s going to run The 401 (highway) in Ontario,” he said. “They will see numerous examples of this at work. They’ll see what aggressive driving looks like.”

6 comments:

  1. No the speed limiters were introduced to the Ontario Government By THE Ontario trucking Association. The manipulation of the Ontario government was by big trucking companies. Such as Challenger Motor Frieght.
    Because as I said all along there was something else up there sleeve. And there was. Not even a year after the Ontario governments decision too limit the trucks. They came back and asked if they could pull 2, 53 foot trailers down the road on the 400 series Hwys.
    So what good are speed limiters?
    All governments are great with coming up with all these new rules. Or laws. But the chances of enforcement. Are low to none at best.
    Just a thought
    Bob Heans
    Fergus Ontario
    Life Member

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  2. The answer to controlling speed us simple. Laws already in place. Just need enforcement, not more stupid laws.

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  3. Lee Ingratta..Patlee TransportDecember 28, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    I agree with anonymous....The OTA...run and lead by Challengers owner..had the right government officials in his back pocket to very quickly push this new law into existance....NO question period...no arguments were ever allowed !!!..He even quoted in a magazine article that he wanted to level the playing field...Ya Right !! All it has done was cause chaos on the highways, and more money in the pockets of big trucking companies. We don't see the US O/OP in Ontario any more delivering freight, because they would have to set their speed limiters to 65 just to enter Ontario....GREAT NEWS for Challenger !! MORE FREIGHT FOR THEM !!...I personally spent 3 years in the courts trying to fight this new law...with limited success. So remember this...its Big Carriers that want this law passed, and the polititions they have bought and paid for.

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  4. I drive a limited (105kmph) truck and the article point about aggressive driving around me... I experience it every day, from cars and from unlimited trucks as well. I am experienced with this though, as in Europe where I started trucking, all commercial vehicles are limited, trucks to 89kmph and buses to 100. People who are pro-limiters should go to Europe to see aggressive driving by cars around heavy vehicles. Everyone there knows trucks are limited and they exploit that relentlessly.

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  5. This need to limit trucks to 100 kph or 62.5 mph is ok in parts of the country that this is the posted speed limit like Ont and Que but it does not work in places like New Brunswick where the posted limit on the Trans Canada Hwy 110 kph or 68.35 mph besides is it not up to police to stop trucks that speed .

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  6. My public comment on the proposal was exactly this. Universal governors will very quickly tip off the private motorists to the fact that all trucks go basically the same speed. Then the flood gates of aggressive driving will open. All of the seeds for it are already present, if you're out on the road and pay any attention to the established habits of a (largish) fraction of car drivers. With a little fertilizer, those seed will explode.

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