SPECIAL REPORT: Speed limiter bill introduced in province of Ontario

| 3/19/2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 – Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley introduced legislation today that, if approved, will make speed limiters mandatory on all heavy trucks doing business in the Canadian province.

Enforcement of the measure would begin sometime in 2009, Ontario government officials stated in a press release. There would be an initial six-month educational enforcement period.

The proposal toes the line of the Ontario Trucking Association, whose officials have been lobbying for the maximum speed of trucks to be capped electronically at 105 km/h, or 65 mph.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say the legislation is not only flawed, but also premature because a study by Transport Canada on the environmental impact of speed limiters has not yet been completed.

OOIDA’s Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill said Ontario lawmakers are catering to big business.

“It’s a one-sided gift to big business trucking operations disguised as sound science,” O’Neill told Land Line.

If approved, the measure would apply to all trucks doing business in Ontario, including U.S. trucks and trucks from other Canadian provinces, O’Neill said.

“We have presented them with opposing arguments and the studies to reinforce our point. The fact that they are doing this during a strained North American economy raises questions about the integrity of the office,” she said of the Ontario transport minister.

Transport Minister Bradley cited information that mirrors the Ontario Trucking Association’s lobbying materials regarding greenhouse gas emissions and crashes. OOIDA officials say those points are debatable.

“Slowing down big rigs on our highways would make our air cleaner and keep traffic moving at a safe speed,” Bradley stated.

OOIDA officials believe that speed-limited trucks will be stuck in the right lane, cause problems with merging traffic, and result in “elephant races” when trucks cannot pass one another.

OTA President David Bradley – no known relation to the transport minister – began lobbying for mandatory speed limiters in late 2005. OTA’s Bradley knows that the independents and small-business truckers oppose a speed-limiter mandate.

“Truck drivers are the least likely to be excessively speeding, but there are some who need to slow it down. This technology will allow us to do that without putting a further drain on police resources that would be better spent going after reckless motorists and criminals,” the OTA president stated in a press release.

O’Neill, on behalf of owner-operators and small-business truckers, said existing speed laws should be enforced by law officers and not through computer chips.

– By David Tanner, staff writer