Speed limiter legislation could be introduced this week in Quebec

| 11/12/2007

Quebec’s top transportation official is poised to introduce tougher speeding laws in the province that include mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks and stricter cellular-phone laws for all drivers.

Quebec Transportation Minister Julie Boulet and officials from the provincial police held a press conference on Sunday, Nov. 11, announcing the introduction this week of a six-point safety plan that includes mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks.

Officials gathered following a march by 1,000 residents of a small town where a 3-year-old girl was struck and killed on Halloween by a passenger vehicle in a residential neighborhood. Investigators said speeding was the cause.

Boulet issued a statement to say she would introduce legislation on Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Quebec National Assembly.

Boulet’s six-point plan calls for tougher action against speeding; tougher penalties for drinking and driving; a pilot program for photo radar and red-light cameras; prohibition of cellular phone handsets for all drivers; the introduction of speed limiters at 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph, for heavy trucks; and the introduction of a graduated program for drivers’ licenses.

The proposal, once introduced as legislation, will undergo a process that includes several readings and chances for debate, a media spokesman for Boulet’s office told Land Line.

The U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association along with the Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada continue to fight mandatory speed limiters to protect the business interests of small-business truckers.

Laura O’Neill, government affairs counsel for OOIDA, said the six-point plan does little to empower law enforcement to deal with actual speeders.

“Are these really deterrents? What happened to police officers pulling people over?” O’Neill asked.

“It illustrates a point that enforcing the existing laws would get to the heart of the problem,” she said.

OOIDA represents a membership of 157,000 small-business truckers.

O’Neill and others have been informing officials in Quebec and in the neighboring province of Ontario about the real agenda behind mandatory speed limiters as the proposal originated with a lobbying push by large motor-carrier associations trying to recruit and retain drivers.

O’Neill said a joint effort between OOIDA and OBAC to push back against mandatory speed limiters is not falling on deaf ears. She said owner-operators and small-business truckers have sent hundreds of postcards to transportation officials so far.

“We’re continuing our postcard campaign and continuing to contact U.S. lawmakers to contact officials about speed limiters,” she said.

Several U.S. lawmakers have written to Canadian officials to say that speed limiters will have an adverse effect on trade with the U.S. because U.S. trucking companies may choose not to haul across the border into a province that requires speed limiters.

– By David Tanner, staff writer