Public hearings could be coming soon for Ontario speed limiters

| 5/30/2008

Members of a legislative committee in Ontario, Canada, met Friday, May 30, to hammer out a plan for public hearings on a bill that would make speed limiters mandatory on heavy trucks operating in that province.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are preparing testimony for upcoming hearings that they hope the committee will announce sometime next week.

“We want people to know that we are fighting this tooth and nail,” Rick Craig, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, told Land Line.

Back in March, Ontario Minister of Transportation James Bradley introduced Bill 41 which would require limit trucks to operating at a maximum speed of 105 km/h, or 65 mph. This would be accomplished through adjusting a setting in the ECM, or electronic control module of a truck’s computer system. All trucks doing business in or through Ontario would be subject to the law regardless of where they are domiciled.

Craig and others who are opposed to this jurisdictional form of regulation say a mandate would affect commerce and cross-border trucking because a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces have posted speed limits for trucks above the proposed 65 mph cap.

Not only that, but claims by large motor carriers about highway safety, fuel consumption and emissions are debatable.

The Ontario Legislature recently assigned Bill 41 to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy where the hearing process is to take place.

Committee Clerk Susan Sourial told Land Line that the committee’s procedural subcommittee meeting on Friday was to allow the political parties to determine how they want the public process to proceed. Often the process involves setting hearing locations and determining the amount of time to be allotted for public testimony.

Steven Johnson, professor of industrial engineering at the University of Arkansas, is planning to make a trip to Ontario to testify once a hearing date is set, he recently told Land Line.

Johnson, a researcher of highway speed and vehicle interaction, said he believes that although the slowest truck on the road may be the one saving the most fuel, the amount of acceleration and deceleration by other vehicles interacting with the truck will burn a significant amount of fuel.

Johnson’s research also shows that trucks traveling slower than the flow of traffic can become rolling roadblocks and increase the frequency of potentially dangerous vehicle interactions.

The Ontario legislative committee is currently receiving public comments as well as requests to testify at the upcoming hearings.

To submit testimony on the issue, contact the Standing Committee on Justice Policy at:
            Susan Sourial, clerk
            Standing Committee on Justice Policy
            99 Wellesley Street West, Room 1405
            Whitney Block, Queen’s Park
            Toronto, Ontario
            Canada M7A 1A2

            Phone: (416) 325-7352
            Fax: (416) 325-3505
            TTY: (416) 325-3538

Click here to read the text of the speed-limiter bill.

– By David Tanner, staff writer