OOIDA urges postponement of speed limiter regs in Ontario

| 12/19/2008

A snowstorm in Toronto may have forced the cancellation of a trucker convoy to protest a government mandate for speed limiters, but the fax machine at Queen’s Park still works.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston faxed in a letter Thursday afternoon, Dec. 18, urging Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley to “postpone indefinitely” the implementation of speed-limiter regulations for heavy trucks, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2009.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association president wants it known that Bradley and the majority Liberal Party government of Ontario has consistently ignored independent research on highway safety as well as Transport Canada research that says speed limiters on all trucks may not accomplish what large motor carriers say they will.

Johnston called it appalling that the Liberals caved in to pressure from the Ontario Trucking Association of large motor carriers while ignoring testimony from owner-operator groups from Canada and the U.S.

“We have presented wide-ranging research to your staff that demonstrates the likelihood of increased traffic accidents and brings into question any purported environmental savings from a speed limiter mandate,” Johnston stated in the letter.

“We have also advised, even during more sound economic times, that mandating speed limiters in Ontario will have considerable economic and trade repercussions that will punish small trucking operations.”

“The total disregard shown for the research and the concerns of the hardworking truckers that we represent is nothing less than appalling.” Click here to read the letter.

Meanwhile, trucker and OOIDA member Scott Mooney had been planning for a convoy to take place Friday, Dec. 19, from his home area of Cambridge, Ontario, into Toronto.

A blizzard and the expectation of two feet of snow caused the convoy to be canceled, but it did not put a damper on Mooney’s enthusiasm to fight the regulation, which he believes is a bad idea.

“Today, the truck drivers made that call themselves not to go ahead because they felt that this was going to be an unsafe thing to do. We’re hoping that the Ontario government will recognize that this speed-limiter law is also not the safe thing to do and call it off,” Mooney told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.

Mooney said the regulation would put truckers at risk because the flow of traffic on Ontario’s 400-series highways is higher than the maximum speed of 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph, as stated in the regulation.

“Literally, they’re putting truckers at risk on the highway. The speeds out here are higher than the limit they want to put on trucks,” Mooney said.

Johnston, in his letter to Bradley, stated that government-mandated speed limiters will have an adverse effect on the economy and cross-border trade in addition to the safety issue involving speed differential.

OOIDA members account for 97,000 truck trips in and out of Ontario according to the OOIDA Foundation. In a survey, only 12 percent of owner-operators who make those trips said they would continue to operate in Ontario if they were forced to have a speed limiter set below the maximum of 105 km/h.

The Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada previously sent a letter to the transportation minister to say that owner-operator interests were being ignored.

“Truck drivers feel strongly that Minister Bradley needs to get the message loud and clear that the (Ontario Trucking Association) does not speak for the majority of the trucking industry in Ontario, and certainly not for drivers and owner-operators,” Ritchie stated in an e-mail to Land Line.

She said a protest convoy is still a strong possibility early in 2009.

Mooney has information about a petition on the social networking site, facebook.com, titled “Truckers Against Speed Limiter Legislation.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer