Driver advocates take issue with speed limiters

| Thursday, December 01, 2005

The issue of speed limiters goes beyond truck speed and fuel savings, according to the Owner-Operator’s Business Association based in Ottawa , Ontario .

OBAC Executive Director Joanne Ritchie and driver advocates like OOIDA President Jim Johnston are concerned that mandatory speed limiters would upset the balance on the roadways and create hazards for all motorists.

“When you have cars going faster than trucks, that in fact creates unsafe conditions,” Ritchie told Land Line. “When you get trucks in the left lane or right lane going slower, it creates all kinds of problems with cars weaving around them, trying to get on and off the interstates.”

Limiters, also known as engine governors, have been an ongoing issue, particularly since this past summer, when the Ontario Trucking Association began seeking a government mandate for all trucks doing business in the Canadian province.

The OTA proposed a top-end restriction of 105 kilometers per hour, or about 65 mph.

Ritchie points out some of the flaws in the OTA proposal, but she does not question the fact that reducing speeds saves fuel and could reduce certain types of accidents.

“To come out and say we’re opposed to speed limiters may send a message to OTA that we’re opposing it because we’re condoning the opposite,” said the Canadian owner-operator advocate.

“It’s a tricky issue because what we’re really opposing is the government regulation on the engine governors.”

The motor carriers’ position, stated by the OTA, includes the declaration of fuel and money savings and a stance that reduced speeds lead to reduced accidents.

Ritchie says governing engines should be left up to the individual companies and not the government.

“We don’t have any problem if fleets want to make that decision to govern their engines,” Ritchie said. “It could save them fuel and control speeding and that’s a business issue for them. As far as owner-operators, on the cost side of things, most of the ones who are business savvy at all are aware of the business advantages of going slow because of fuel economy. It makes a lot of business sense.”

The proposal would govern all trucks operating in Ontario , not just Ontario-based trucks.

“How is this going to be enforced?” Ritchie asked. “I could see non-Ontario plated trucks being targeted to make sure they have their speed limiters on.”

Then, Ritchie said, there’s the issue of commerce.

“Seventy-five percent of value by trade with the U.S. goes through four Ontario ports, but it doesn’t all originate in Ontario ,” she said. “It’s also coming in through those border crossings and then going to other parts of Canada .”

Ritchie said she believes speed can be controlled in other ways.

“We would like to see enforcement,” she said. “Obviously there are the individuals that are going to speed and we have enforcement for that. The only place it’s a problem is in the greater Toronto area to Windsor . Even then we know from research and studies show speeding is the cars and not the trucks.”

– By David Tanner
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

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