SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA, Canadian officials discuss speed limiters

| 8/18/2008

Monday, Aug. 18, 2008 – Two OOIDA representatives traveled to Canada this past week to educate federal and provincial officials on the topic of speed limiters. Discussion included how a new law in Ontario, which makes speed limiters mandatory on heavy trucks, will affect both U.S. and Canadian truckers.

Government Affairs Director Rod Nofziger and Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill traveled to the nation’s capital of Ottawa and the Ontario provincial government in Toronto.

The first part of the trip was to communicate with federal officials, O’Neill told Land Line Now on XM Satellite Radio.

O’Neill said individual provinces are responsible for setting transportation policies, including speed. Part of OOIDA’s process, she said, was to educate federal officials about Bill 41, which Ontario officials approved in June to make speed limiters mandatory on all heavy trucks doing business in the province.

“We haven’t had a lot of contact up there so this is kind of exciting to do a meet and greet and just talk about what Ontario has done and is planning to do to implement this legislation,” she said.

O’Neill said federal officials in Canada have no plans to put support behind mandatory speed limiters in all provinces.

The next stop was in Toronto, where Nofziger and O’Neill met with a staff member from the office of Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley.

It was back in March that Bradley introduced Bill 41 at the urging of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance of large motor carriers.

Nofziger and O’Neill took the opportunity to repeat OOIDA’s opposition to Bill 41 and to ask government officials to soften the blow to owner-operators and small-business truckers.

“They think that all the big bad trucks are speeding, and they think they have the medicine that’s going to cure this and get the speeding trucks off the road,” O’Neill said of the meeting.

She said the Ontario officials remain committed to implementing Bill 41 and capping the top road speed of trucks at 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph.

The third and final stop for the OOIDA officials was in Lake St. Charles, Ontario, to discuss enforcement with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, also known as MTO.

MTO officials are in charge of enforcing the regulations that are to accompany Bill 41, when an enforcement date is chosen. O’Neill said regulators have not yet chosen an enforcement date and that a public comment period remains open until Aug. 31.

O’Neill said MTO officials will not be handing out fines during the first six months of enforcement as part of an educational period for truckers.

“We’re very much appreciative of that, but at the same time, it’s such a bad piece of legislation, we’re still going to do what we can to try and get them to back off enforcing this.”

Although the lawmakers who passed Bill 41 are not budging, O’Neill said enforcement practices need to be fair to owner-operators regardless of whether they are from Ontario or from other provinces or U.S. states.

Overall, the meetings were productive and provided a good chance to be heard once again on the important issues, she said.

The comment period on Bill 41 regulations posted by the Regulatory Registry of Ontario ends Aug. 31. Clickhere to view the regulatory site, which includes an online comment form and a mailing address for written comments.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

– Land Line Now Host Mark Reddig contributed to this report.