Canadian speed limiter issue still just a proposal

| 2/24/2006

Stakeholders on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border continue to weigh in on the issue of mandatory speed limiters as Ontario officials say they are still not ready to report on their review of the matter.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario was scheduled for an official briefing on speed limiters in January, but the MTO has not yet released any new information.

An MTO spokesman’s e-mail to Land Line on Friday, Feb. 24, confirmed the ministry is still studying the issue.

There are two proposals out there, one from the Ontario Trucking Association, which is asking the provincial government to require speed limiters to be set at 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph, on all trucks operating in Ontario that were made since 1995.

The other proposal came from the leadership of the ATA, which voted in mid-February to endorse activating speed limiters at 68 mph for all trucks at the time of manufacture.

Some ATA spokespeople say their organization is not pushing for a government mandate at this time, but north of the border, it’s all about asking for a government mandate. OTA President and CEO David Bradley made no secrets about endorsing mandatory speed limiters for all of North America.

The Ontario motor carrier’s group has built quite a case for speed limiters, garnering support from environmental and insurance groups, public safety advocates and a self-funded public survey.

However, OTA has drawn criticism from owner-operators and the authors of studies that contradict the OTA’s safety claims.

Industry stakeholders continue to weigh in.

Take trucker Carl Brown, an OOIDA member from Gainesville, GA, who has been trucking since 1981.

Brown wrote to the Ontario ministry to say officials should be listening to the truckers and not the powerbrokers. He shared his e-mail with Land Line.

“They need to get in a truck and ride for a couple of weeks and to see what we deal with day in and day out,” Brown wrote. “The thing we need is to teach the everyday driver out here on how to share the road and what we deal with.”

Brown said highway safety is about more than capping the speed of the big rigs.

“Until you educate everyone on the roads and share them equally there always going to be problems,” he wrote. “But limiters will only cause accidents injuries and death. It’s not the trucking industry who is the problem, it’s other drivers who are uneducated on the rules laws and just common sense of the roads.”

OTA has claimed that activating speed limiters will increase safety, reduce the severity of crashes involving trucks, and result in fuel savings.

OTA’s official position on its Web site includes this statement: “Similarly, it is further anticipated that lane discipline by trucks will improve as a by-product of the mandatory activation of speed limiters, again increasing the expectation that police services will be better able to deal with the remaining transgressions of the laws pertaining to lane discipline.”

Opponents have said they don’t feel that stacking trucks in the right lane will lead to increased safety, particularly near on- and off-ramps.

OTA released statistics Tuesday, Feb. 21, that showed 71 percent of the Ontario public supporting a mandate on speed limiters at the 105 km/h setting. That survey of 1,000 people by IntelliPulse also showed that 79 percent of the public believes safety would increase if trucks were forced to stay under 65 mph.

The Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada and its executive director, Joanne Ritchie, are fighting against the measure in Ontario. Ritchie says enforcement of speed laws would be more practical.

OBAC and OOIDA submitted separate and joint comments in opposition to the proposal to the Ontario government.

– By David Tanner, staff writer