It’s all in the details

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Changes to Ontario’s A/Z licensing requirements, intended to close embarrassing loopholes that were allowing inexperienced drivers to gain their licence after being tested with a pick-up and horse trailer, are having the unintended effect of hurting our industry’s most experienced drivers.
Legislation intended to ensure drivers do not tamper with the speed limiters in their trucks has left Ontario dealers in a quandary about their responsibilities and the Ontario Trucking Association and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation don’t appear to be reading the legislation in the same way.
And we’ve recently heard from environment auditor Scott Vaughn that the federal government has no way to track the environmental benefits of two programs it claimed would contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
What the heck is going on? Why is our industry being encumbered with what I can only assume is sloppy legislative work that is leading to damaging unintended effects?
You can read all about the changes to Ontario’s A/Z licensing requirements in the Truck News March issue cover story by James Menzies but in a nutshell the Ministry of Transportation now requires drivers to take their road test using a truck with a manual transmission; a fifth wheel coupling; a trailer at least 45-feet long; and air brakes on the tractor and trailer.
That makes a great deal of sense when it comes to ensuring new drivers take a test that properly reflects the working environment many will be facing. But it is frustrating the heck out of senior drivers, who in Ontario must complete a road test every year after the age of 65 to maintain their commercial licence. These are folks with years of experience under their belts. If they’ve moved to an automated transmission for their rig, it was because they believed that to be a smart spec’ing decision for their application; if they’re hauling a trailer shorter than 45-feet in length it’s because the nature of their job demands it. Why force them to have to rent a truck and trailer for the day, every year, in order to take the test?
In the case of Ontario’s speed limiter legislation (also a front page story in this issue), dealers have been left uncertain about whether they’re responsible for limiting the speed of any truck (new or used) to the legislated 105 kmh when the initial delivery is done and what the ramifications would be in the event of an accident.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, the Conservative governments was blasted for pushing through a transit tax credit back in 2006 they claimed would cut emissions by 220,000 tonnes per year but which will in fact amount to about 35,000 tonnes of annual emissions cuts at best (see my blog on
In all these cases, we are told the matter is “under consideration.” I hope that the politicians and bureaucrats involved ensure that process is a speedy one but also then pause to consider why legislation drafted with the best of intentions so often is having unintended effects. The people being hurt by these measures deserve a quick addressing of their concerns, not frustrating delays and red tape, and an assurance the people we elect to govern us pay a little closer attention to the consequences of the laws they’re enacting.

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With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.

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  • As I recall Lou, you were all for the speed limiter law. Those of us in opposition knew that the Ontario bureaucrats would screw it up one way or another. It’s in the Government’s nature, passing edicts without consideration for aspects beyond their imperial demands. Perhaps you should volunteer to assist them in resolving their idiotic laws. Your own prescience should be gladly accepted.