Canadians object plenty to proposed speed-limiter bill

| 3/20/2008

Tampering with speed limiters in the province of Ontario could lead to fines of $250 to $20,000 if a proposed bill becomes law.

The fines are not the biggest problem that owner-operator associations in Canada and the United States have with the proposal introduced by Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley on Wednesday, March 19. The proposal would make speed limiters mandatory on all commercial motor vehicles doing business in the province by 2009.

If approved, the law would limit the maximum speed of heavy trucks to 105 km/h, or 65 mph, Bradley said while delivering the legislation to the Ontario House of Commons.

Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, said that limit differs from the maximum speed allowed in many U.S. states. She said mandated speed limiters, coupled with fines for tampering with the devices, will curb cross-border trucking between Canada and the U.S.

The most obvious complaint Ritchie has with the proposed Bill 41 is the treatment by the Canadian media at these early stages.

“The things being reported on the news are that this will make our highways safer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Ritchie told Land Line.

“We’ve presented lots of information and statistical evidence that would dispute those ‘facts.’ Those numbers are exactly what they were given by the (Ontario Trucking Association) two and a half years ago. They haven’t even considered what we’ve given them.”

Ritchie points out that the transport minister is using figures taken directly from OTA’s lobbying platform concerning greenhouse gas emissions, which claims that speed limiters would prevent 280,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year.

A commissioned study by Transport Canada has not yet been completed, she said.

“It’s an utter sham and irresponsible of the Ontario government to do this while we’re all waiting for those studies to be completed,” Ritchie said.

“They’re using the same words from OTA’s platform, which says to me they’re not interested in looking at the consequences or the appropriate role of the government in saving the environment or making the highways safer.”

Ritchie is urging truckers to contact elected officials to share their opinions on speed limiters.

A good place to start is with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.

In addition, OOIDA leaders are encouraging U.S. truckers from northern border states to call their U.S. senators and representatives to let them know how the proposal could affect them. To reach any member of Congress, dial the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, provide your ZIP code, and you will be connected directly to the offices of your representative or senators.

Here are the addresses and phone numbers for the Canadian officials:

            The Honorable Dalton McGuinty
            Premier of Ontario
            Ferguson Block, 12th Floor
            77 Wellesley St W
            Toronto, ON M7A1N3

Phone: (416) 325-1941

            The Honorable Jim Bradley
            Ontario Minister of Transportation
            Ferguson Block
            77 Wellesley St W, 3rd Floor
            Toronto ON, M7A1Z8

Phone: (416) 327-9200

– By David Tanner, staff writer