Transport minister learns it doesn’t pay to speed in Quebec

| 11/20/2007

Journalists in Quebec are having a field day one week after Transportation Minister Julie Boulet introduced legislation that includes stiffer penalties for speeding and a mandate for speed limiters on heavy trucks.

Following a press conference about the topic of speeding on Friday, Nov. 16, journalists witnessed Boulet’s limo driver breaking various speed-related laws as he drove the minister away from the event.

Boulet did not know she was being tailed by the journalists working for Journal Montreal. She later claimed to be resting in back and unaware of the driver’s behavior.

The Journal reported their staff observed three infractions by Boulet’s limo driver – traveling 107 kilometers per hour (66 mph) in a 70 km/h (44 mph) zone; passing a vehicle on the right at speeds of 120 km/h (75 mph); and, traveling 130 km/h (81 mph) in a 100 km/h (62 mph) zone.

Boulet’s critics say it’s hypocritical for her to introduce legislation concerning highway safety while she neglects current speed laws and the very enforcement of those laws.

“The whole episode highlights the misguided notion that government-mandated speed-limiters on heavy trucks will contribute in any way to safety on our highways,” said Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada.

OBAC and the U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association oppose mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks, which is one of six proposals in legislation Boulet filed Nov. 14 in the Quebec National Assembly.

The legislation will be assigned to a committee and undergo further study if the committee deems it appropriate.

Other proposals in Boulet’s legislation include tougher penalties for speeding; tougher penalties for drinking and driving; pilot programs for photo radar and red-light cameras; prohibition of cellular handsets while driving; and, an obligation for all new drivers to obtain their licenses through a graduated program.

Ritchie is among those who believe Boulet’s proposals lack enforcement mechanisms and do not concentrate on the real problems.

“It should be patently obvious that Boulet is targeting the wrong group of offenders if she wants to get speeding under control,” Ritchie told Land Line. “It also speaks to the need for public education. The chauffeur, like most four-wheelers on the road, needs a lesson in sharing the road with trucks.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer