Survey: Speed limiters deter trucking into Canada

By David Tanner
associate editor


A recent OOIDA survey asked truckers if they haul cross-border between the U.S. and Canada and for their reasons why or why not. Nearly one in four that answered “no” to the cross-border question pointed to the speed-limiter mandate in Ontario and Quebec as the main reason.

OOIDA conducted the survey after being contacted by Canadian stakeholder groups that wanted to know more about why U.S.-based truckers were taking fewer and fewer loads north of the border.

Before the survey, stakeholders believed that a new regulation taking effect in April 2011 was the culprit. The regulation will require U.S.-based truckers to register with the Canadian Border Services Agency in advance before being permitted into Canada.

While bureaucracy and red tape concerns on both sides of the border did show up in the survey results, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz said nearly one in four pointed to speed limiters.

“Nearly 23 percent of respondents listed that as the No. 1 reason that they won’t go up there,” Rajkovacz told Land Line Now on Sirius XM.

“We made the case, and we continue to make the case that the speed-limiter initiative in Ontario and Quebec was going to segment the market and keep small-business American competitors out of it. It’s clear from this survey that that’s what happened.”

The speed-limiter mandate took effect in late spring 2009 in Ontario and Quebec. It requires all heavy trucks to be equipped with a working speed-limiter setting in the truck’s computer, set at a maximum engine speed of 105 kilometers per hour, which is about 65 mph. The regulation is for all heavy trucks on the roadways, regardless of base plate.

Truckers gave other reasons for avoiding the border, too, such as lack of return freight; licensing and permitting issues; wheelbase restrictions; and required e-manifests for cargo.

By the numbers
In just 72 hours that the survey was available from Oct. 5 through Oct. 8, approximately 2,100 truckers responded. More than 99 percent of respondents were U.S.-based truckers, with less than 1 percent being Canadian.

Of the respondents, 52.5 percent were owner-operators leased to carriers, 32 percent were owner-operators with their own authority, and 15.5 percent were company drivers.

More than 83.5 percent said they do not engage in cross-border trucking, and of those numbers, 61.9 percent said they have operated cross-border in the past. Rajkovacz said this was a telling number.

“It really shows that there are problems in both perceptions and also in terms of lack of knowledge about what’s involved in terms of cross-border traffic,” he said.

More than half of the respondents said it would be beneficial if there were a “one-stop shop” that would assist truckers in complying with all of the various requirements.

OOIDA asked survey respondents to provide comments on the issue.

“I do not haul to the eastern provinces since the speed limiter regulation took effect,” one respondent stated.

“As a company driver, I no longer go into Canada,” said another. “However, as a former o/o, the Canadian regulations became more stringent and going into Canada was becoming less profitable and a major hassle. It would seem as if they are trying to play ‘catch up’ with the American regulations, and both are going to hurt small businesses on both sides of the border.”

Blame Canada?
Rajkovacz said the animosity in the comments was not all directed at Canadian regulations.

“There is a high degree of animosity, not to Canadian customs, but to U.S. customs and how they get treated coming back to their own country,” he said. “This isn’t an ‘I hate Canada’ sort of thing.”

As one respondent put it, “When a commercial driver who is a U.S. citizen is detained getting back to his own country, then why should I bother in crossing the border? There are enough petty bureaucrats for me in the rest of the USA to go around.”

Rajkovacz said the dialogue with the Canadian stakeholders continues to be an interesting one. LL