The purpose of this review was to provide an overview of the three main groups representing the carrier industry in Canada and offer some insight into their position on mandatory speed limiters. This background information would provide context for a small case study which endeavored to assess the benefits, effectiveness and implementation issues associated with mandatory speed limiters on commercial class trucks in Canada.
The background research found that the three trucking sectors, as represented by their respective associations, had rather polarized views on the subject of mandatory speed limiters. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the association representing the for-hire sector and the group who first proposed the notion of mandatory speed limiters in trucks, continues to support their original position and is a strong advocate of nation-wide laws mandating speed limiters in all trucks operating in Canada. The other end of the spectrum is the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada (OBAC). OBAC is strongly opposed to mandatory speed limiters in trucks and is against any provincial or national regulations making such requirements compulsory. The third group, which is the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC) continues to be opposed to the notion of mandatory speed limiters in trucks but has taken a wait and see attitude and is asking to see the results of Transport Canada's analysis on the subject (i.e., this and other studies that are currently underway).
The case studies demonstrated that speed limiters have become a ‘way of life' for many carriers. A number of the people that we met and interviewed from the carrier companies indicated that speed limiters have been in use for 20 years; longer than they have been with company. Our research also found that this situation is not unique and estimates suggest that more than 60% of carrier fleets in Canada have speed limiter policies in place, many for more than ten years.
The case study research found that both carrier fleets said that their speed limiter policies were initially introduced because doing so offered an opportunity to improve the efficiency of their business by reducing operating costs (fuel and maintenance) and potentially reducing collision risks. This in turn would make them more competitive in their industry. Unfortunately we were not able to quantify these improvements since neither carrier could provide data on pre-speed limiter costs. In addition, both carrier fleets reported a low incidence of speed related violations and the drivers interviewed did not believe that the speed controls created a significant operational or safety concern. The case study also suggested that neither of the carrier fleets studied appear to have any market disadvantage compared to their competitors as a result of their speed control policies and in fact may have a market advantage associated with driver retention and driver job satisfaction.
Based on our review of the available information on speed limiters there are three important findings:
- The potential fuel savings associated with speed limiters is significant and could be as high as $250 million per year for the carrier industry in Canada. Fuel savings is the main driver behind the decision by most carriers to implement speed limiter policies.
- The environmental benefits are equally significant representing a potential reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions amounting to 0.6 megatonnes per year. Environmental concerns are probably the main driver behind the decision by some provinces (Quebec and Ontario) to introduce speed limiter regulations.
- Many carriers recognize the merits of an effective speed limiter policy and program as a good business decision and implementing such a program gives them a competitive advantage. They have realized savings in fuel, maintenance and operating costs; they are beginning to recognize the environmental benefits and they are contributing to a reduction of collisions.
Collectively, these findings are an indication that mandatory speed limiters have significant benefits for industry, for government and the general public.