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Ontario’s court hears trucker’s challenge of speed-limiter law

By David Tanner, associate editor

Owner-operator Gene Michaud’s constitutional challenge of the Ontario, Canada, law that requires heavy trucks to be equipped with speed limiters is now in the hands of a judge.

Michaud’s attorney David Crocker of Toronto presented oral arguments to the Ontario Court of Justice over a two-day period in January.

“We argued that the speed-limiter legislation, that being the amendment to the Highway Traffic Act … violated Gene Michaud’s rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to have his security interest protected,” Crocker told Land Line following the proceedings in Welland, Ontario.

“We argued that speed limiters and the speed-limiter legislation put him at risk because it created a variance between his speed and the flow of traffic,” Crocker said. “That variance was itself dangerous, and we had expert opinions to support that.”

Expert opinions included an affidavit from Julie Cirillo, former assistant administrator for the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. She stated in the document that speed limiters prevent heavy trucks from operating within the flow of traffic and would, therefore, increase the likelihood of accidents.

Michaud, an OOIDA member from St. Catharines, Ontario, received a citation from a provincial truck inspector on June 19, 2009, five months after the provincial speed-limiter law took effect. The inspector found Michaud’s limiter to be working, but it was at 68 mph.

The letter of the law requires speed limiters to be set no higher than 65 mph, or about 105 kilometers.

Michaud testified that he believes having his truck restricted to 65 mph is too slow and too dangerous for operating on U.S. highways where he routinely runs.

Michaud’s argument against the province also includes a rebuttal of claims that speed limiters reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“We argued that even if there was some minor emissions savings which resulted from the speed-limiter legislation, it was so small as to be irrelevant,” Crocker said.

The province, represented by attorney Michael Dunn of the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, presented its arguments during the proceedings. The province stands by its initial justification for the law, which is that limiting the speed of the commercial vehicles improves safety and reduces harmful emissions.

After arguments closed, Justice of the Peace Brett A. Kelly announced that he will reveal his decision on June 6. LL