Tuesday deadline to file comments on speed limiters

| 6/9/2008

There’s just one day left to send public comments regarding legislation in Ontario, Canada, that would make speed limiters mandatory on all heavy trucks. The deadline to file comments on Bill 41 is 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 10.

At this late stage, the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy is accepting comments via fax, e-mail and telephone.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed comments and testified in opposition to government-mandated speed limiters at a public hearing Thursday, June 5. OOIDA officials raised the issue of possible border-trade violations between Ontario and its U.S. neighbors.

OOIDA officials also engaged large motor-carrier associations in a debate about highway safety and speed differential between trucks and passenger vehicles.

The hearing included testimony and comments from owner-operator associations, motor carriers, trade groups, individual truckers and members of the Justice Policy Committee.

Drawing attention to the limited advance notice of the hearing – less than three days – was Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada. She was unable to make it to the hearing because of that short notice, but spoke to the committee by conference call and submitted her testimony in writing.

“OBAC raises a number of serious questions concerning both international and interprovincial trade, privacy, tampering, enforcement, and cost to the taxpayers of Ontario,” Ritchie stated.

Ritchie emphasized that no highway user group, especially truckers, condones speeding.

“It is illegal and dangerous, and can contribute to the severity of accidents. However, highway safety engineers have long recognized that highways are safest when all vehicles are traveling at the same speed – regardless of the speed limit.”

Other trade groups testified as to their stake in the speed limiter argument, including truck manufacturers represented by the Truck Manufacturers Association.

TMA President Robert Clarke submitted a letter he previously wrote to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which states that the setting of a speed limiter in the electronic control module of a truck’s computer system does not itself regulate the top road speed of a truck.

“Other parameters – transmission output shaft pulses per revolution, tire rolling radius, and rear axle gear ratio – are required to calculate vehicle road speed and, therefore, affect the actual top speed of the vehicle,” Clarke stated.

This would make roadside enforcement of Bill 41 difficult, Clarke concludes. An enforcement officer would need access to codes from the manufacturer to enforce the anti-tampering provision in Bill 41.

“There are no uniform/standardized programs for reading ECMs,” Clarke said.
Clarke told Land Line on Monday, June 9, that Bill 41 is designed to put the burden on truck owners to set speed limiters at the proposed 105 km/h maximum.

“It’s not a manufacturer requirement. It’s an owner requirement,” Clarke said. “That’s an important point.”

Clarke said truck manufacturers are not in a position to decide whether mandatory speed limiters would be good, bad or indifferent to the industry.

“From a technical point of view, if you drive slower you get better fuel efficiency,” he said. “With that said, we’ve tried to stick to the facts about tamper-proofing.”

The Ontario Trucking Association of large motor carriers first began lobbying the Ontario government in favor of a speed-limiter mandate in November 2005. A provincial election in 2007 included mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks as part of the Liberal Party’s political platform.

In March of this year, Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley introduced Bill 41, and the Legislature assigned it to the Justice Policy Committee. Once the committee completes the public process for receiving testimony, committee members will vote to send the bill back to the Legislature for a final debate and vote.

The contact information for sending comments to the committee follows. Keep in mind that phone, fax and e-mail is preferred at this late stage.

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
            E-mail: susan_sourial@ontla.ola.org

– By David Tanner, staff writer