SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. reps join Canadian speed limiter fray

| 10/19/2007

Friday, Oct. 19, 2007 – A growing number of U.S. lawmakers are joining the fight against a proposal for mandatory speed limiters in Canada.

The provincial governments of Quebec and Ontario have proposed mandatory speed limiters be set at 105 km/h – about 65 mph – on all heavy trucks doing business in the province.

U.S. Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-NY, is one of at least three U.S. lawmakers concerned about the proposal, Land Linehas learned.

Kuhl sent a letter Oct. 11 to Quebec Minister of Transportation Julie Boulet asking the minister to reconsider the speed-limiter proposal.

Boulet has not finalized the legislation she is proposing, but Quebec law allows legislation to be modified at any time during the process.
Kuhl stated in his letter that speed limiters would “have an adverse impact on trade between those Canadian provinces and the state of New York without resulting in the increased highway safety that you are apparently seeking.”

Here’s why, he said.

“As you are probably aware, once a speed limiter is set, it cannot be deactivated or altered. This means that for U.S. trucks who travel in Ontario and Quebec, a speed of 105 km/h or 65 mph would be set for the entire journey, regardless of the posted speed limit in the jurisdictions in which they travel,” Kuhl wrote.

Another U.S. lawmaker, Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-NY, placed a call to Quebec officials with his concerns about border trade, his office staff confirmed.

Rep. James Walsh, R-NY, was the first U.S. lawmaker to act, sending a letter Sept. 20 to Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.

Cansfield, a member of the Ontario Liberal Party, is part of the majority government that voters re-elected Oct. 10. A majority government has the strongest chance of getting its legislation passed in the Canadian system.

Throughout the election campaign, Cansfield promised to make speed limiters mandatory if the Liberals won.

The issue of speed limiters still appears to be more pressing in Quebec than in Ontario, at least for the time being, officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say.

Boulet, the transport minister in Quebec, continues to promote a six-point highway safety plan that includes:

  • Mandatory speed limiters for trucks;
  • Tougher action against drinking and driving;
  • Pilot programs for photo radar and red-light cameras;
  • Action against cellular-phone use while driving;
  • Tougher speeding laws in general; and
  • Obligatory driving courses and graduated driver’s licenses.

Boulet has promised action in 2007 and 2008 to implement all six points in her province.

OOIDA wants the point about speed limiters dropped from the proposal because it would put owner-operators at a competitive disadvantage to large fleets.

– By David Tanner, staff writer