Mandatory speed-limiters gains national support in Canada

| 1/18/2006

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has announced that six out of seven provincial motor carrier associations support a mandatory speed-limiter proposal.

The proposal, from the Ontario Trucking Association, is pushing to cap maximum speeds at 105 kilometers per hour, or about 65 mph, for all trucks operating in Ontario . The Ontario association, with CTA support, is seeking a Canada-wide mandate for speed limiters, with the eventual goal to include all of North America..

If the proposal gets the nod from the Ontario government, it will require all truckers to activate their engine governors to drive in Ontario . Violations could mean penalties and fines.

The Quebec Trucking Association, which is the second-largest provincial motor carrier association, had not endorsed the proposal as of Tuesday, Jan. 17.

OOIDA and the Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada are both opposed to this form of control. Both groups say enforcement of speed limits would be more effective.

Safety is also an issue, the driver advocates say, since speed limiters will cause more differences in speed between cars and trucks, and that could lead to more maneuvering and wrecks.

The Ontario Trucking Association submitted its proposal to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario in November 2005, and the ministry made a brief request for stakeholder comments before the end of the year.

Both OOIDA and OBAC have submitted formal comments opposing the proposal.

But the Canadian Trucking Alliance and its CEO David Bradley – who is also the president of the Ontario Trucking Association – are generating some momentum, convincing large motor carriers, environmental groups, insurance carriers and safety agencies that the speed-limiter proposal will save fuel, reduce emissions, reduce the severity of car-truck crashes and lessen the stress on truckers who feel pressure to speed to make up time.

OOIDA and OBAC have shot holes in many of those arguments. Both groups note they do not condone speeding. Instead, they promote compliance and safe driving.

The CTA board of directors is scheduled to meet in April, according to a press release from Bradley, and will look into ratifying its position on speed limiters.

“It may happen sooner,” Bradley stated. “But, we have not heard from everyone yet, and there are a few local issues to sort out, so formal ratification in April seems realistic.”

Bradley has recently gone on record to ask for less government control of truckers, something OBAC said seems hypocritical.

During pre-budget hearings with the Ontario Ministry of Finance, one part of the discussion was about what Bradley called unfair taxation of the trucking industry.

“The Ontario government must eliminate artificial barriers to competitiveness in sectors like trucking and to do that we need to look at the tax system, at infrastructure investment and ways to cut government waste and improved delivery of government services,” Bradley said on record, telling Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

OBAC Executive Director Joanne Ritchie responded to Bradley’s statements.

“All of the things that they say are achievable without government regulation,” Ritchie told Land Line. “As far as speeding, we already have regulations for that. It’s called cops.

“They’re asking government to get out of the way where it suits carriers, and jump in and add more regulation where it suits some carriers. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer