2014 Canadian Trucking News – Truck Speed Limiter Legislation Passed in Ontario
Three years of relentless lobbying has paid off for the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA). What was once brushed off as a joke in some critics’ circles has now become a reality – Speed limiters set at 150 km/h will be mandatory for all trucks appearing in Ontario.
Queen’s Park gave its stamp of approval to Bill 41, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to enact speed limiters. Quebec, who has a similar law, will likely be the next one. However, an official implementation date has not yet been decided. The law probably won’t take effect until 2014 at the earliest.
As the legislation is written, truckers who do not comply will face fines anywhere from $250 to a maximum of $20,000.
OTA president David Bradley, while doing a schedule public hearing in the Legislature last week – Agreed that the campaign to make limiters a legal requirement has been one of the group’s most successful feats.
One of the members of the group is especially concerned that the limiter rule would isolate Ontario economically. He also recommended an amendment that would have exempted US carriers so not to affect Ontario businesses that rely on northbound transport. But this was rejected.
The two-tiered provision may have been misguided, as it would have put Ontario truckers at a competitive disadvantage on their own turf. Still, they have predicted that there will be a NAFTA challenge. And honestly, it is not believed that the government is on safe ground is regards to that issue as well.
By taking a proactive stance when it comes to reducing the consumption of fuel and travelling at safe speeds, some in the industry has believed that the OTA has bought itself some political capital for other related initiatives, such as incentives for green trucking technology, and LCV allowances.
Jeff Bryan, owner of Jeff Bryan Transport in Burford Ontario, has said that each lobbying effort is separate from the other. Bryan says that this was not a tool that OTA used to buy political power. The OTA simply did what their members asked it to do, and that was to make this happen. And they did make it happen.
Eventually, like seatbelts and unleaded gas, truckers will look back on speed limiters and wonder what the fuss was all about.
Brian Taylor predicts that there will be some people who will leave the industry, because perhaps they feel like there has been some freedom taken away. But for the most part, Taylor thinks that people will change their habits and get good results from it.
Speed limiters not safe for trucks
Ontario courts have ruled in favor of truckers who are claiming that speed limiters for their trucks are both dangerous, and unjust. Truckers have been against these devices for many years, but only recently have lawmakers taken their side in the argument.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also feels that these devices do more harm, rather than good. Judge Brett Kelly ruled the laws instituting the installation of speed limiters for trucks create a bigger danger for both truckers, and other drivers that share the road.
This decision was made during a court case in which Gene Michaud, an owner-operator and member of OOIDA from Ontario, filed a challenge based on the laws set by the province regarding speed limiters. The existing law stated that any heavy truck that was manufactured in 1995 or later, must be fitted with a limiting device that prevented the vehicle from travelling more than 65 miles per hour. The courts ruled in favor of his constitutional challenge. The law violates the principles of fundamental justice mandated by the Canadian constitution, since it fails to protect the public or the trucks that are affected by the laws. It serves no purpose, and only makes it more challenging for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles.
The driver received support from the OOIDA since the association knew that the ruling could create a new precedent in Canada, which could have a significant effect on lawmakers in the United States as well. Many states have been pushing legislators to institute similar rules regarding mandatory use of speed limiters. These devices are pricey and difficult for independent owner-operators or small fleets to purchase. This can also obstruct with their competitiveness against large fleets that can easily get the limiters.
The arguments given by the driver and his legal team established that he was giving up his right to security, an idea protected by Canadian law. The limiter kept truck speeds below the natural flow of traffic in many of the areas he traveled through on a regular basis. This made navigation more difficult and limited his ability to move around smaller and faster moving vehicles. His testimony included situations that he described as unsafe and uncomfortable due to his inability to speed up to match the traffic surrounding him.
OOIDA also showed a lot of research that verified the dangers of speed limiters. Different studies of real traffic patterns and driving situations with heavy trucks clearly show that it is safer for vehicles to match the speeds of the traffic around them. Forcing a truck to remain slower than the rest of traffic increases the chance of collisions. Speed limiters have the potential to cause far more accidents on the road than they could prevent.
The judge noted in his ruling the importance of a driver having full control over the vehicle to operate it safely. He stated that allowing a driver to choose his speed was more important than preventing some drivers from travelling over the speed limits. The law was found to fail to offer protection as designed, and Judge Kelly ruled that the driver was put in dangerous situations due to the limiter installed on his vehicle. The OOIDA can now use the ruling to help convince the legislators in the province to get rid of the requirement.