OBAC’s Ritchie taking a few “liberties” of her own on speed limiter debate
July 15, 2009
July 15, 2009
Think the debate over speed limiters in Ontario is over now that the province is enforcing the regulation? Think again.
In her latest editorial “Civil Libertarians? Darn tootin’ I am” in the upcoming issue of Truck News, Joanne Ritchie, head of the Owner-Operators Business Association, comes out swinging over certain remarks Ontario Trucking Association vice president Doug Switzer made recently regarding lingering opposition to the law.
Ritchie takes great offense at Switzer’s characterization of those opposed to speed limiters as “civil libertarians” similar to those who fought seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws. And she then proceeds to tear a strip off Switzer and the OTA for their dismissive stance and support of speed limiters and the Ontario government for buying into OTA’s arguments.
All fine and good – nothing wrong with a good debate and Ritchie is an experienced debater. It’s part of the reason we run her column in Truck News, even if some of us don’t always agree with what she has to say. And any law passed can still be changed if proven to be ineffective.
Problem is that just as Ritchie wraps herself up in the civil libertarian cloth, she decides to take more than a few liberties of her own. I would like to address one in particular in this blog because I have evidence which I trust and which shows a completely different reality.
Ritchie takes Switzer to task for telling the media that it’s primarily “independent driver-owners” who oppose this law. “Nothing could be farther from the truth,” Ritchie writes. “MOST of the trucking industry – single-truck owners and fleets large and small – including many who already govern their trucks, find this kind of purposeless government meddling odious.”
Really Joanne? Where’s the evidence? What independent survey do you have that proves most Ontario carriers don’t support speed limiters?
Truth is, far as I know, we are the only ones who have been conducting truly independent surveys of fleet managers and executives as well as owner/operators on this topic for three years now. And this is what our latest survey (completed just this week) shows:
• 72% of for-hire fleet managers in Ontario support speed limiters compared to 28% who do not;
• 58% of private fleet managers in Ontario support speed limiters compared to 42% who do not;
• 74% of government fleet managers in Ontario support speed limiters compared to 26% who do not
These numbers are consistent with what our surveys have been showing the last three years: namely that although support among Ontario fleets is not complete, the majority of fleet managers and owners DO support speed limiters. The only area where it’s somewhat close is the private fleet sector and yet even there speed limiters have almost 60% support.
And the research also shows that although the distaste among owner/operators is very strong (80% oppose speed limiters) it also is not complete, contrary to what OBAC has been saying all along. One fifth (20%) of the owner/operators in Ontario responding to our survey support speed limiters.
Speaking as I am of numbers, it brings me to one final question I would like answered. A question that begs asking really and yet, curiously enough, no one seems to ask: OBAC presents itself as the voice of the owner/operator. Certainly government accepts it as such and Ritchie is certainly a vocal supporter of issues she perceives to be of interest to owner/operators. But exactly how many of the about 35,000 owner/operators in Canada are members of OBAC? An association speaking on behalf of owner/operators should not hesitate to answer such a question to ensure the industry and government it is not taking liberties with the information it puts out.
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. All posts by Lou Smyrlis