Canadian owner-operators oppose speed limiters

| 1/11/2006

The Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada says technology is no substitute for a well-trained driver.

Mandatory speed limiters on all trucks operating in Ontario , Canada , OBAC contends, would dilute the role of the driver in a number of areas, including safety and fuel economy.

OBAC released its anticipated 22-page report against mandatory speed limiters – or engine governors – in response to an information-gathering process launched in December 2005 by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario .

OOIDA has also submitted comments to the transportation ministry in opposition to mandatory speed limiters.

OBAC and OOIDA are against the Ontario Trucking Association proposal, which petitioned the government to require the speed of trucks to be limited to 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph. OTA represents many of Canada ’s large motor carriers, which already voluntarily use engine governors.

Joanne Ritchie, OBAC’s executive director, said the proposal underestimates the role of the driver in the equation.

“Since the driver has the greatest impact on fuel efficiency, maintenance, and safety, more thorough driver training relating to proper driving speeds should have a positive effect on the speeds actually driven,” Ritchie said in the report. “Technology cannot take the place of a well-trained driver, nor should it take away control of the vehicle from a well-trained driver.”

An annual report by Transport Canada , a regulatory division of the Canadian federal government, estimated 8.38 million trucks crossed the border between Ontario and the U.S. in 2004.

OBAC’s report states that mandatory speed limiters would affect commerce because 22 U.S. states and several Canadian provinces have speed limits higher than 65 mph.

Ritchie said by mandating speed limiters on trucks, Ontario would be “usurping the authority of those other jurisdictions to determine the maximum speed limit for vehicles traveling on their highways.”

She said enforcement of engine governors would be a waste of resources. She suggests the Ontario government instead provide tax incentives for truckers to buy 2007 diesel engines to further reduce emissions.

But the biggest contention OBAC has with the OTA’s proposal is safety.

“Forcing heavy-duty trucks to drive slower than the flow of traffic, while other vehicles on the road continue to speed, sometimes excessively, will lead to frequent lane changes, passing, and weaving maneuvers, as well as tailgating by faster-moving vehicles,” Ritchie wrote.

The comment period initiated by MTO is now over. A ministry official said the information is being compiled for a briefing, likely to happen in the next few weeks.

Many stakeholders and drivers sent comments to MTO and copied them to Land Line. Anyone who wishes to let the government know how they feel about mandatory speed limiters can still contact their elected officials.

OOIDA members in Canada or the U.S. can call the Association’s Membership Department at 1-800-444-5791 and ask for staff to look up contact information for members of the Canadian Parliament or the U.S. Congress, as well as phone numbers and addresses for Canada ’s provincial parliaments and state legislatures in the U.S.

For contact information for the Canadian Ministry of Transportation, click here:

– By David Tanner, staff writer