Ontario truckers challenge speed-limiter law in court

| 7/17/2009

Truckers who received fines for violating the speed-limiter law in Ontario are getting their day in court.

Among the truckers scheduled to make their first court appearance in late August is Scott Mooney of Cambridge, Ontario, an OOIDA member and founder of the Facebook group, Drivers Against Speed Limiters. Mooney is familiar to readers because he was the organizer of two protests in opposition to the Ontario law that restricts the road speed of trucks.

Mooney received a $390 fine on the first day of full enforcement of the law, July 1. He decided immediately to plead “not guilty,” which entitled him to a court date.

“I could have pled guilty and just sent the fine in,” Mooney told Land Line.

But fighting the ticket serves a purpose, as Mooney wants to address issues with the law formerly known as Bill 41.

“We’re challenging the law itself. We feel that the law is unjust and illegal in such a way that it puts drivers at risk, in more ways than one,” he said.

Mooney is scheduled to appear Aug. 26 in Ontario provincial court in Napanee.

Truckers are convinced that more road rage incidents are occurring on Ontario highways as slower-moving trucks bunch together. Land Line Magazine’s current online poll asks truckers if they have experienced road rage due to being limited. As of this posting, 56 percent answered “Happens too often to count” and 32 percent answered “Once in a while but not often.”

OOIDA and the Canadian owner-operator group OBAC say that slowing down trucks but not cars will lead to more dangerous interactions among vehicles on the highways. Fuel savings touted by the government are also in question when it comes to speed limiters.

The Ontario law restricts the top road speed of rigs to at or below 105 kilometers per hour, which is about 65 mph. While the posted speed limit in Ontario maxes out at 100 km/h, or 62 mph, the flow of traffic on major routes is closer to 120 km/h or 75 mph, according to truckers like Mooney.

Since July 1, Ontario police and commercial enforcement officers have used hand-held devices to check speed-limiter settings via the data ports located on trucks 1995 and newer. Inspections are conducted at weigh scales or at roadside. Fines range from $250 up to $20,000.

A similar law in nearby Quebec has fines ranging from $350 to $1,050. The laws in Ontario and Quebec do not discriminate about where a truck is base plated.

– By David Tanner, staff writer