BLOG: Speed Limiters Give Drivers an Advantage
With all of the recent events concerning the speed limiter law here in Ontario, I felt I had to jump into the argument and give my opinion from a professional driver point of view. Some of you might ask what makes me a professional. Yes, I do not do the 3000 miles a week, but I do 2100 miles a week. I am a former OTA/ Volvo Driver of the Year, former OTA Road Knight, and have logged over 3,000,000 miles of accident free driving during my career.
And I've heard it before: a Road Knight is nothing but a trained mouth piece for the OTA. But I had my own opinion on the speed limiter issue long before I became a Road Knight and got more involved with the industry. I have worked for only three companies during my career and every one of them had a speed limiter set on their equipment. That's going back almost 25 years.
As a professional driver, I know my equipment and when I can push the speed issue to my advantage. You have to think ahead when you are about to pass another truck. If you feel you cannot do it on a straight away, do it on a hill. Being a professional is not only about having the licence, it's about having all the experience from all those thousands of kilometres out on the road.
I have seen the facts both presented by the OTA as well as industry specs and maintenance / safety records from quite a few companies. The numbers don’t lie. Speed is a factor in most accidents occurring on our highways today. The whole idea of the law is simple. Slower trucks can lead to fewer accidents, less fuel used by your equipment, as well as less stress on a driver. That is why we have a speed limit for any vehicle traveling on a public roadway.
I'm sorry; I do not buy the argument that having the speed limit on a truck set at 105 km/h can lead to an accident. I read the mainstream press, as well as industry trade publications, and I have not seen an accident that was directly related to a speed limiter.
Yes, I admit sometimes it is nice being able to pass another truck with ease as we did a few years ago before the speed limiter rule came into effect. But I also admit I do like the advantage the speed limiter rules have given drivers. What advantage?
The advantage is time. Drivers can only be pushed as fast as the speed limiter rule can allow, 105Km/h. Now the issue that I see with drivers on Ontario’s highway is simple: why are we not all following the rules?
Last month, during my normal run to south western Ontario, I was travelling up the Niagara Escarpment hill in Milton, ON. (This is not the long grade like in western Canada but it can slow down most tractor trailers.) I was travelling in the passing lane for truck as I was trying to pass a waste hauler from Cam Hitlz Trucking. No big deal, I was doing my 105Km/h and he was travelling at a slower speed with his four way flashers on in the slow lane. My trailer was halfway past his tractor when I saw headlights flashing. I looked back and it was not the waste hauler flashing me; it was a very impatient gravel hauler driver behind me.
I was in the left lane to pass a slower vehicle that was in the right lane. At my 105km/h limit, I was quite able to pass the other truck. The driver that was behind me could not wait the three minutes it was going to take for me to pass; he had to pull out into the passing lane for cars (otherwise called the "center lane against the wall") and I was passed like I was standing still.
Then, before he had fully passed me, he decides to change lanes in front of me only to exit the highway at the very next exit.
I do not see where my speed limit would have been the factor if there was an accident. The driver who was so eager to pass the two of us would have been at fault. Why? His speed would have been the main factor.
(On a side note, I would love to know when gravel hauling become a just in time system.)
The point I am trying to make here is if all commercial vehicles are supposed to run at 105 km/h, why aren't they? The stress level could come right down if drivers realized the advantage of following the rules. And do I even have to go into the fuel savings? The numbers are there and they don’t lie.
Shippers need to realize the travel time between cities here in Ontario. Don’t expect the load that is picked up in Windsor to make Toronto in three hours. At 105, it takes four hours. Don’t rush when safety is an issue.
Remember drive safe and keep it between the lines.