Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just as smart as fertilizing tomatoes with a bag of salt

The speed limiter issue continues to boil over in Canada, as Ontario continues to flirt with requiring the devices.

The basic premise supporters of the idea are using is that the limiters promote safety – an idea any trucker knows isn’t the case.

Want some real world examples? Try this on for size.

A trucker called in to our office the other day to tell us what happened recently when he tried to pass another truck in Ohio.

Both trucks were moving at very close to the same speed. And although he didn’t say so, I suspect his truck and the other truck were limited.

As he was trying to pass the other truck, a four-wheeler became impatient, veered onto the shoulder, jammed the accelerator and sped around the two trucks.

This is an excellent case study in why using speed limiters for safety is just as smart as fertilizing tomatoes with a bag of salt.

Every study of speed limiters has told us this is the kind of behavior that’s likely if we require them. It’s what every scientist who’s actually studied the issue has said can happen, what all the evidence points to.

Here are the basics again, for those in the Canadian government who have been sleeping or not paying attention:

Speed limiters create speed differentials on the highways.

Speed differentials lead to increased interaction in traffic – more passing, more speeding up, more sudden braking.

And those things lead to only one end: more accidents, and – God forbid – more deaths.

It’s time supporters of speed limiters come out from behind the safety argument. It simply doesn’t wash.

The real reason this is being pushed has been made clear over and over again. The bean counters at larger carriers tell their corporate overlords that limiting speed will save money. But it’s harder to recruit drivers when you use limiters. So these same carriers want everyone to be limited so they can more easily recruit.

It is not the job of lawmakers to help companies with flawed corporate policies to recruit workers. It is the job of lawmakers to look out for the safety and welfare of the general public.

If lawmakers in Ontario, Quebec or anywhere else are really interested in safety, they should reject this back-door form of corporate welfare.