By David Tanner
The issue of speed limiters in Ontario, Canada, is now in the hands of the provincial government.
Member of Provincial Parliament Laurie Scott introduced a private member’s bill June 1 as an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act.
The bill is akin to the Ontario Trucking Association’s suggestion that the government require all truck computers be set to govern maximum speeds at 105 kilometers per hour, which is approximately 65 mph.
The Ontario Legislative Assembly conducted two readings to accept Scott’s proposal as Bill 115, assigning it to the Legislature’s Standing Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs.
That committee began collecting public input in early June, but had no meetings, hearings or votes scheduled as of press time.
Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada, said the status of the bill is not an immediate cause for panic, but it does create an opportunity for truckers to file comments.
“To say that the mandatory speed-limiter plan is ‘approaching third reading’ (or a final vote) in the Ontario legislature is overstating the significance of what has happened so far,” Ritchie told Land Line in response to an Ontario Trucking Association press release that stated speed limiters were one vote away from becoming law.
“Passing second reading is a process-related move that sends the bill to committee for discussion,” Ritchie said. “There’s a lot of ground to cover before a decision is made whether or not to take it any further.”
The committee will eventually make a recommendation back to the full legislature, which possesses the lawmaking vote.
Scott’s bill would require speed limiting on all heavy trucks operating in Ontario that have ECMs, which became standard in 1995. A plan for enforcement would have to be worked out.
Ontario is Canada’s most-populated province and has several border crossings with the U.S. It is the first province to take up the speed limiter issue in its legislature.
The Ontario Trucking Association, which represents the province’s large motor carriers, has been promoting government-mandated speed limiters since November 2005. Other provinces may follow suit, if the OTA and the Canadian Trucking Alliance have anything to say about it.
OTA President David Bradley is also the CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents all eight provincial motor-carrier associations. All eight associations are on board to push for mandatory speed limiters in their jurisdictions, according to press releases issued this spring.
Mandatory speed limiters have both support and opposition from provincial, national and international interests.
Opponents include Ritchie and OBAC, as well as the U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which has a membership of 141,000.
Both groups cite studies done on the dangers of widening speed differentials between four-wheelers and heavy trucks.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the speed limiter proposal is seriously flawed.
“While those flaws are blatantly obvious to most truck drivers, unfortunately, lawmakers in Ontario lack that vision,” Spencer said. “They need to be told this is a bad idea, and why, from the people who really know – truck drivers.”
OOIDA issued a “Call to Action” for its Canadian members to contact their elected representatives and voice their opinion on the speed limiter issue.
To learn more about the Ontario bill, or to file your comments with the committee studying the speed-limiter issue, visit the Web site www.ontla.on.ca. Click on “bills” to find Bill 115, or click on “committees” to find the Standing Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs.
You can also contact Committee Clerk Douglas Arnott by phone at (416) 325-3506 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments also can be submitted by mailing them to:
Standing Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs
Whitney Block, Queen’s Park
M7A 1A2 LL