SPECIAL REPORT: Speed limiters will be mandatory Jan. 1 in Quebec

| 10/29/2008

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 – Transportation officials in the province of Quebec have officially announced that speed limiters will be mandatory on all heavy trucks beginning Jan. 1, 2009.

Quebec’s transportation minister, Julie Boulet, published a decree Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the official provincial register, Gazette Officielle du Quebec.

The regulation requires that all heavy trucks manufactured after Dec. 31, 1994, with a gross weight in excess of 26,000 pounds have a working speed limiter set at or below a maximum of 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph.

The regulation applies to all trucks doing business in or traveling through Quebec regardless of domicile.

Opponents of government-mandated speed limiters say a jurisdictional mandate will cause an impediment to interprovincial and international trade as well as unsafe conditions on the highways.

Officials with the U.S.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Canadian-based Owner Operator’s Business Association of Canada continue to fight the measure in Quebec and in neighboring Ontario where a similar law awaits implementation.

“We’re committed to opposing it all across the board,” Rick Craig, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs, toldLand Line upon hearing the news from Quebec.

OOIDA officials intend to file a formal “notice of intent” to pursue a legal challenge with the Canadian federal government on issues of trade and commerce.

Opponents have thought for nearly a year that Ontario would be the first province to implement the regulation even though Quebec preceded Ontario by six months in passing legislation.

The belief is that now the two provinces will harmonize their implementation and education periods.

Craig predicts that Ontario transportation officials will come out with their announcement any day announcing a Jan. 1 implementation date there. A spokeswoman in Ontario Transportation Minister James Bradley’s office could not be reached on Wednesday.

OBAC Executive Director Joanne Ritchie said speed limiters should not be mandated by the government, but should be left to fleets or owner-operators as a business decision.

“OBAC is obviously disappointed that Quebec is proceeding to implement this flawed legislation,” Ritchie toldLand Line.

“We’ve yet to hear from Quebec on how they plan to enforce the regulation, but if they’re planning to go down the same route as Ontario, I think there will be considerable resistance to opening up our ECMs to the prying eyes of enforcement officials.”

Former owner-operator Jean Catudal, a member of OOIDA and OBAC who lives in Yamaska, Quebec, testified at a transportation hearing Nov. 30, 2007, in Quebec City. He said Minister Boulet made a commitment at that time to wait on the rest of Canada before implementing the speed limiter regulation.

“I think we need to remind the minister of her promise,” Catudal told Land Line on Wednesday.

The issue of government-mandated speed limiters in Canada began with a lobbying effort in November 2005 by the Ontario Trucking Association of large motor carriers.

In the U.S., large motor carrier associations, including ATA, promote similar mandates. Their contention is that speed limiters will make highways safer.

OOIDA and OBAC officials cite studies conducted by Stephen Johnson of the University of Arkansas, which state that the safest highways are the ones where traffic moves at a uniform speed.

– By David Tanner, staff writer