Mandatory speed limiter proposal filed in Quebec

| 11/15/2007

Julie Boulet, minister of transportation in the Canadian province of Quebec, introduced a six-point highway bill Wednesday, Nov. 14, that includes a push for mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks.

Boulet’s proposed amendment to the Highway Safety Code calls for speed limiters to be set at 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph, on all heavy trucks operating in the province, regardless of where they are base plated.

The legislation also includes proposals for red-light cameras and photo radar, stricter penalties for speeding, stricter penalties for drunken driving, a ban on cell phone handsets, and graduated drivers’ licenses for new drivers.

Critics of the bill, including owner-operator associations in Canada and the U.S., say it lacks resources for enforcement, particularly the enforcement of existing laws.

“It not only misses the point but it will create a mess in the process,” said Laura O’Neill, government affairs counsel for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “It would create a mess because speed differentials cause unsafe highways.”

A University of Arkansas study showed that roadways where there are speed differentials with cars traveling faster than trucks have more interactions between the two types of vehicles, which makes people take chances behind the wheel.

A Quebec transportation spokesman told Land Line that Boulet’s bill will be sent to a committee whose members can call for further studies. While in committee, the proposed legislation could be amended any number of times prior to an eventual vote in the Quebec National Assembly – the equivalent of a state legislature in the U.S.

“It is not a law yet,” spokesman Mario St-Pierre said, adding that some type of law usually emerges from a proposal introduced by a minister.

Boulet’s critics, including those in the Assembly’s opposition parties, have frowned upon the emotional plea Boulet made to the media about speeding prior to filing the proposal.

Boulet called a press conference three days before filing the bill to call attention to the tragic death of a 3-year-old girl who was killed by a speeding passenger vehicle on Halloween.

Opposition leaders considered blocking Boulet’s legislation, according to a current affairs show called “Sans Compromis” (“Without Compromise”) that is aired in French on XM Canada Channel 172. The show, hosted by Stephane Gendron, mayor of Huntington, Quebec, has covered the issue of speed limiters for several months, according to frequent listener and OOIDA member Jean Catudal of Yamaska, Quebec.

Catudal started a petition and has collected more than 750 names from truckers in Quebec, Ontario, the rest of Canada and across the U.S. who are opposed to speed limiters. To read and/or sign the petition, click here.

Quebec isn’t the only Canadian province considering speed limiters.

Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley has said that speed limiters are a priority in his province as well. Bradley has not taken formal action or introduced legislation to this point.

OOIDA and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada continue to fight the issue in both provinces.

The issue is not about speeding or anything illegal, it’s about enforcement of current speed limits and allowing trucks to travel at safe highway speeds to avoid dangerous interactions with other vehicles, O’Neill said.

– By David Tanner, staff writer