Polar Opposites

By David Tanner
staff writer


In April, a transportation official said New Brunswick could be the next province to join Ontario and Quebec in requiring speed limiters on heavy trucks.

OOIDA has urged members who haul or do business in New Brunswick to contact their elected officials and the New Brunswick Department of Transportation ahead of possible legislation.

New Brunswick Registrar of Motor Vehicles Charles O’Donnell told Land Line that he intends to recommend speed-limiter legislation to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. The proposal would mirror Ontario and Quebec laws that restrict trucks to a maximum of 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph.

“At this point the Legislature hasn’t made a decision or considered a bill,” O’Donnell said. “We’re expecting that they will be considering a bill within the near future.”

O’Donnell said New Brunswick was interested in expanding the “speed-limiter corridor” from western Ontario to eastern New Brunswick.

OOIDA and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada oppose government-mandated speed limiters, saying that regulations will have negative effects on interprovincial and cross-border trade and create unsafe speed differentials among highway users.

“New Brunswick is jumping the gun on this,” OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig told Land Line. “No one has proven the benefits of speed limiters or disproven the points we’ve made about the negative implications of speed-limiter mandates.”

The law in Ontario and Quebec took effect Jan. 1, affecting trucks 26,000 pounds and heavier regardless of where they are base-plated.

“This needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand,” Craig said. “If anyone operating in New Brunswick has anything to say about it, now is the time before it’s too late.”

Meanwhile, the transportation minister for the province of Alberta believes the safest highways are the ones where vehicles move at uniform speeds and collisions from lane changing can be avoided.

“Forcing trucks to stay below 105 km/h on provincial highways could potentially cause more collisions on roads while other vehicles travel at higher speeds,” Alberta Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette told the Alberta Motor Transport Association in April.

OOIDA leadership commended Ouellette for his candor.

“We are grateful that Alberta isn’t pursuing speed limiters predominantly because they are unsafe not only for truck drivers but also for the surrounding highway users,” said OOIDA Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill.

“But we are also grateful from a trade and economic perspective. We have fielded hundreds of complaints from drivers who have had to make the decision to give up their routes into Ontario and Quebec because it isn’t feasible to comply with this law. I am pleased that drivers will still be able to conduct business in Alberta. In this economy you really hate to see anyone having to turn down work.”

Speed limiters get a cold reception in a number of provinces.

A mandate is a no-go in Nova Scotia in the east and British Columbia in the far west because officials believe governing the engines should remain voluntary.

In Saskatchewan, where the posted limit is 110 km/h on select routes, transportation officials don’t believe speed limiters would serve the public.

“While the Ministry supports the efforts of industry to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the Ministry is concerned that mandating speed limiters may lead to a decrease in highway safety on the two-lane highway system,” said Alison Bradish, spokeswoman for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

Manitoba officials prefer a voluntary approach unless speed limiters become a national issue. Officials there are scheduled to increase posted speed limits from 100 km/h to 110 km/h, or 68 mph, starting July 1 on certain highways.

“There currently isn’t enough information or evidence or studies done on the potential safety risks that speed limiter use may have on two lane highways,” Manitoba transportation spokesman Joe Czech told Land Line.

Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island have lower posted speed limits and little interest in limiting truck speed via computer settings. LL