U.S. representative says speed limiters would hurt trade

| 9/24/2007

A U.S. representative from New York says trade between the U.S. and Canada will suffer if speed limiters for heavy trucks are made mandatory north of the border.

Rep. James T. Walsh, R-NY, is urging Ontario Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield to reconsider her proposal for all heavy trucks doing business in the province of Ontario.

Land Line obtained a letter dated Sept. 20 in which Walsh urges Cansfield to wait for a proper study to assess the impact such a proposal would have on trade.

“A potential consequence of the pending legislation would be that New York trucking companies may simply choose not to do business in Ontario and Quebec,” Walsh stated in the letter.

“Such action would prove to be detrimental to the current thriving trade relationship between our great nations, and could have a major impact on the cost of common goods throughout the eastern corridor.”

Cansfield, a member of the Ontario Liberal Party, stated this summer that if the Liberals win the Oct. 10 election, she will introduce legislation for mandatory speed limiters that mirrors lobbyist language from the Ontario Trucking Association of large motor carriers.

Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec, which also borders New York, has a similar proposal for speed limiters as part of a larger transportation package. Quebec Transportatoin Minister Julie Boulet has not yet proposed formal bill language.

Exports from New York into Ontario and Quebec totaled $10.7 billion from June 2006 through June 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

“The majority of these goods are brought into your provinces by trucks that do not currently employ speed limiters, as it is not a requirement in the United States,” Walsh stated in the letter to Cansfield.

The Ontario Trucking Association has lobbied the provincial government for almost two years to adopt mandatory speed limiters, claiming the activation of limiting software in trucks’ computers will make the roads safer while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Opponents of the speed limiter proposals, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, don’t buy into the safety concept and are skeptical of OTA’s claims about greenhouse gas reduction.

OOIDA submitted comments in December 2006 to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario that speed limiters would cause more vehicle interactions on the highways because of the different speeds.

OOIDA officials believe law enforcement should take care of the speeders. The Association does not condone speeding and encourages its membership of 156,000 U.S. and Canadian members to abide by posted limits.

OOIDA member Jean Catudal of Yamaska, Quebec, has organized an online petition and already has more than 380 signatures against mandatory speed limiters. To view comments from fellow truckers and sign the petition before Catudal delivers it to the government, click here.

– By David Tanner, staff writer