Q&A - Vehicle Speed Limiters

70 km/h Speed SignCan you please tell me what would be a safe speed to set a governor on our delivery drivers van that is owned by the company? Is there a need to set a governor higher in order for the driver to pass?


My View on Speed Limiters

Since the speed limit is the legal maximum and going faster is an offence, there should be no need to exceed it for passing purposes. Passing is not a justification for exceeding the speed limit. I've always thought that if you had to speed in order to pass, the vehicle you were passing didn't need to be passed in the first place.

I'll research information on limit setting that would be useful to you and will respond with it when I find more.

Employee Objection

From what he said to me was if someone is going 95 he would like to pass and can’t do so as it is set at 100 kph on the governor. I did explain we pay by the hour so I am not sure as to why the need for speed, especially when it involves the public.

Where are your vehicles operated?

The reason I ask, is that many highways in BC have limits set at 100, 110, or even 120 km/h.

If that's the case, it could be a tedious process for a governor limited vehicle to pass another, creating a train of vehicles behind them; and in some circumstances, obeying the 'Slower Traffic Keep Right' type rules all but impossible ...

Then again, you make a good point about why an employee who is paid by the hour has the need for speed if staying out of the hammer lane is a viable option.

Northern BC

We are located in Northern BC.  We travel daily, the highest highway sign is 100km/h


Have you tried GPS or satellite fleet tracking?

Would GPS or satellite fleet tracking be a better solution than a speed governor? Most GPS, even an inexpensive hiking-type GPS, can provide a continuous record of driving speed. You could then easily check the average and maximum speeds of your drivers and see exactly where they were when they were speeding. If they indulge in frequent excessive speeding, you can then deal with them appropriately.

Anomalies in the GPS satellite signal can give an erroneous speed over a 20 metre segment. But over say 500 m of 20 m segments, it will average out to an accurate value. Presumably you would only take action against a driver if the excessive speeding was repeated frequently despite warnings.

For what it is worth, here are my thoughts and experiences in relation to driving speed on many long trips on Highway 16.

I mostly drive on northern BC highways. Although the posted speed limit is 100 kph or 110 kph, most people I know (who otherwise are law-abiding) travel at 10 to 20 kph over the posted limit. I don't agree with that attitude. I feel that the law is the law and if you disagree you should try to change the law, not just disobey it.

I often do an 800 k trip on Hwy 16 driving at 90 kph (speed limit minus 10, not speed limit plus10). Of course, I take every reasonable opportunity to let people who want to go faster pass me. But my impression is that most drivers in northern BC are much more relaxed and philosphical about journeys than are drivers in the lower mainland and, apart from a very few hotheads and boy racers, other drivers seem quite relaxed about slowing a little for a few kilometers until there is a clear section of road or a passing lane. Not uncommonly, some seem glad of an excuse to slow down and cruise along at my speed half a kilometer behind me.

Strangely, when northern BC'ers drive on an 60 or 80 kph rural road, it seems they do get desperate to drive at 100 kph.

The main reasons that I drive at 90 kph on a 100 kph highway are:-

1. Safety. It shortens the distance I travel when I am reacting and braking in an emergency.

2. Fuel efficiency, which helps both my bank account and the planet.

3. Less wear and tear on brakes, transmission and engine especially when combined with anticipating necessary speed reductions and avoiding harsh accelerations, which helps both my bank account and the planet.

4. As you will know, wildlife suddenly appearing on the highway is a reality of northern BC driving. Hitting a moose, elk, mule deer or bear is not likely to do vehicle, driver, passengers, insurance premiums or beast much good. Additionally for me, although I am not sentimental about animals (well maybe just a little), I sure feel bad when I see one injured or killed unneccessarily. So this not only potentially helps both my bank account and the planet, but also helps my morale.

5. I find it less stressful driving at a slightly slower speed on the relatively quiet northern BC roads. I suspect that would not be the case on the congested roads of the lower mainland. Unfortunately this is not good for the planet as it means I will live longer and hence consume more non-renewable natural resources. But I do my best to offset that by trying to do more good than harm.

6. The posted limit is the "maximum speed", not the "minimum". If I try to drive at exactly the posted speed, inevitably I will often exceed that speed.

OK, so I am a little guilty of self-righteousness and being pedantic on that last one. But cut me some slack; nobody's perfect!

I hope this helps. Thank you for being concerned that your fleet is driven well .

Expert Opinion

I asked the folks at Road Safety at Work for advice. Rick Walters (Fleet Safety Program Manager) did a quick opinion poll including some feedback from SafetyDriven and responded:


We had the limiters set at 110 for the buses as that was the max legal speed we encountered back then.  Some companies use  a lower limit and others allow a few km/hr over speed limit.


Speed limiters are hit and miss with employers, from what I’ve seen. If it’s set at 100 km/h or less, they will be travelling below the speed limit in some areas, possibly inviting greater risks as other drivers are constantly overtaking them.

Setting the limiter at 110 km/h allows them to keep up with the speed limit in more areas throughout BC and Canada. However, trucks with speed limiters set to 110 km/hr will be able to travel over the speed limit in areas where speed limit is less than 110 km/hr, which may defeat the purpose of limiters. The employer could try setting the limit to lower speed limit and see how the driver’s respond to it. It may take a few adjustments before they get it right.


Again, I have little experience with speed limiters, but it make sense to set the limiter at the greatest speed limit the vehicle will encounter as the go about their delivery route. However, some employers have their own rules about maximum speed, and set the limiters at 90 km/hr even though they regularly travel highways with 100 km/hr limit. Others may want their delivery trucks to never exceed 55 or 80 km/hr - even though the speed limit is 60 or 90 km/hr, and would set limiters accordingly. In any event, the most effective speed limiter is probably a skilled driver that knows the rules, drives to the conditions and conscientiously limits their own speed to allow a "cushion" of error.

Speed limiters

Sorry but speed limiters or governors are inherently dangerous.  If an employer can't trust his/her driver to be responsible, the problem is much deeper than "avoiding overspeed".

Pull out to pass and find that some jerk speeds up on your inside is not a good feeling. If this puts you on the outside of a double center line, cresting a hill or approaching a blind corner, excess speed (legal or otherwise) is far better than a head-on crash. 

What are your choices? Move to the right and run the idiot off the road? The investigators will be on your case as "you caused the crash". Perhaps a dash-cam pointed the right way may exonerate you ... but I wouldn't count on it.

Logic would have a governor set to 120 as that is the maximum limit in BC.  So what effect does it have where the limit is less than that?  Somewhat useless ....

Most heavy truck drivers that I know will run about 100 - 105 even if the posted limit is higher. Why?  Because this is about the best fuel efficiency range.  Also, most heavy truck tires are designed for a 60 mph maximum speed.  Occasional bursts over that are not a problem however, consistent overspeed can and will cause tire failure. 

I may not be doing it anymore but if I didn't have an employer's trust, I don't need that employer.

Missed One Option

One could always use the brake and pull back into the lane they left...

True, that. Legal, and everything.

But let's keep in mind also that - provided the driver passing gives an audible warning - then the driver being passed is required not to be a jerk. Though I'll betcha none of the Highway Patrol guys ever handed over a ticket to them for their dangerous, illegal behaviour when they do speed up.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that every time I pull out to pass on a highway, I carefully consider all of the factors, particularly speed, visibility, and distance. Oftentimes, I don't even attempt a pass because it isn't safe.

But once I've decided that the maneuver is justified, then I'll get it done, efficiently. And safely. Keeping in mind that the longer my vehicle is adjacent to the vehicle I'm passing, the greater the risk; particularly on a highway with only one lane of travel in each direction.

I may not be doing it anymore but if I didn't have an employer's trust, I don't need that employer.

And that cuts both ways.

I mean, if you don't trust the employee, why are you continuing to employ them?

Meanwhile, if as an employer your want to see how your company vehicles are driven, then install dashcams - and fire any of your drivers who demonstrate unsafe behaviour on the road when you review the evidence. Also fire any drivers who unplug the dashcam ...


CD, I had a neighbour who owned (and maybe still does) a trucking company hauling petroleum products.  He also had a private pilot's licence and owned a Cessna. What his drivers didn't know is that he used to follow them in the Cessna and observe their driving.

Missed option

True .... but I should have mentioned that I've had idiots purposely speed up and slow down to block my return to the right hand lane.

I may not be doing it anymore but if I didn't have an employer's

I am getting calls from the public regarding his driving and speed.  It hasn't been one or two people.  I am trying my best to save him from looking elsewhere for employment, this is the last thing i wanted to do by putting a govenor on the delivery vehicles, that is why i  put the question to drive BC.

Time to replace your employee, then.

If his driving is bringing complaints, this reflects on your company and how he is representing the company in public.

Never mind the possible insurance risk. 

Do him a favour, and your company, and let him go to find the opportunity to do something else, somewhere else.

Driver complaints

If you are already getting complaints are you making this driver aware of them?
If not this is something you should start right now.
First complaint - verbal warning
second complaint - written warning
third complaint - 1 week suspension
fourth complaint - bye bye
It's not your job to babysit this driver or govern a truck at max speed only, he can keep speeding everywhere else that has a lower speed limit and keep tarnishing your company name because it appears he doesn't care.

Speed governors / Safe Speeds

We're having a discussion out-of-step with current vehicle technologies. Modern vehicles with navigation systems have the capacity to identify the speed limit in effect, and either warn the driver of overspeed or actually limit vehicle speed accordingly. Any vehicle used for work-related driving can and should be equipped with this sort of technology, which is by now some years old already. They pre-date mandatory standard Electronic Stability Control (2012), which is the level of equipment that should be required of any vehicle used for work purposes.

Failing that, it is also possible to equip drivers with a similar overspeed warning app on their smart phones, same GPS technology. No fan of cell phones etc in the driving environment, but that's not going away any time soon, so why not use them for good instead of evil? Set "Mute/automatic message", enable "Speed limit", and drive safer. Travelling sales people find this a useful license-saver, because they're always under the pressure of time, and struggling with priorities.

Further - there are plug-in monitoring devices (usually to the OBD port) that can provide real-time and synopsis information about where/how the vehicle's being used. Where this can be linked to speed limit mapping, you have rather an obvious option for driver behaviour monitoring and performance feedback. This is also a very useful tool for parents and guardians of new drivers, especially where not just driving behaviour, but also location, can become critical information.

Along those lines, there are companies in some areas that have for some years been doing live monitoring of driver behaviour for fleet operators in particular; the drivers who are "outside parameters" are provided direct feedback, which does apparently tend to reduce "outside" incidents and, importantly, crashes/injuries. Simple behavioural science, really, coupled with readily available technologies. 

There is, of course, the inevitable "freedom to drive" argument to address; of course a driver has to be able to respond appropriately to conditions, but the traffic safety science is absolute on the subject of overspeed and collision risk. So, frankly, speeding up simply is not the answer. Better initial judgement, including the decision not pass, for instance, is. And that judgement has been proven to be well-supported by driver assistance systems such as vehicle speed management and driver monitoring.

Finally, consider this: the on-board Event Data Recorder already installed as standard equipment in vehicles for many years has the capacity to provide information about how the vehicle has been operated over various periods of time. Insurance companies are already using this monitoring system to offer "driver performance bonuses" at the close of insurance terms; stay within speed limits and avoid sudden manouevres, and your insurance costs you less. Unquestionably, this will increasingly become the way forward for the insurance industry, probably to the point that it will simply be a condition of insurance, rather that an opportunity to reduce your policy costs. 

So, we're already way, way past the ancient limitations of mechanical speed governors, and well into a world of options for improved management of driver behaviour. Time we started to use them.

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