Ontario Transport Minister Donna Cansfield has unexpectedly announced (amid very little fanfare during a long weekend) that the province is going ahead with an OTA proposal to require the use of speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks operating within the province.
You know all about the proposal by now – all trucks running within Ontario will have to be governed at 105 km/h under the new law. The Canadian Trucking Alliance hopes Ontario will pave the way for other provinces to follow suit, creating a national standard.
Only time will tell, but it appears the initiative will gain steam with Ontario’s commitment. While the writing has been on the wall for some time, what was most puzzling about the announcement was the timing. While the province’s citizens are up in arms about a rash of recent street racing crashes and fatalities (one involving a heroic truck driver who crashed to avoid other vehicles) the government announced it would limit truck speeds.
I spend a lot of time on the GTA’s 400-series highways and I don’t see a lot of 18-wheelers racing each other or speeding excessively. I do, however, see plenty of evidence that young drivers are engaging in increasingly dangerous driving habits including, but not limited to, racing.
There are plenty of steps the province and its enforcement agencies could take to tackle the problem of street racing head-on: Step up the police presence on the province’s highways. Re-introduce photo radar. Introduce educational programs. Enforce speed laws from the sky, as other jurisdictions have begun to do. Increase minimum penalties for offenders.
Targeting truck speeds does nothing to address the dangers of speeding four-wheelers. In fairness to the province and the OTA, the speed limiter proposal was never intended to address four-wheeler driving habits. It was designed to reduce emissions, improve overall highway safety and – let’s not kid ourselves – level the competitive playing field among carriers.
But given the fact street racing has been such a hot topic in the mainstream media lately, why not introduce tough new laws that affect all vehicles equally – not just trucks? When the trucking industry was suffering bad press resulting from a series of wheel separations in the early 90s, the province didn’t announce a major enforcement campaign against speeding cars. It targeted the offenders – heavy-duty truck operators. It came down hard on violators and the industry is better for it.
Want to send a message? Limit the speeds of all vehicles. There’s no need for a passenger car to be travelling over 130 km/h. Slow’em all down. Now that would make this speed-limiter pill a lot easier to swallow for professional drivers.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies