Speed limiters: A post-mortem

Well, it’s finally happened. After two and a half years of dogged determination, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has ushered its speed limiter policy through to fruition. It went through the legislative process unamended and is pretty much on the books exactly as originally drafted up by OTA.
Now, what? Everyone has their own opinions on what this law will mean to truckers in Ontario. Some say safer roads and cleaner air. Others say highway carnage and a mass exodus of drivers from the industry. I stand somewhere in the middle, and have already made my thoughts known. In a nutshell, I think the proposed benefits are greatly overstated and yet I don’t subscribe to the doomsday theories that are out there and that I hear about every day.
In the end, professional drivers are going to have to accept and adapt – that’s all there is to it. It’s not going to be the end of the world. Having said that, the way this law came to be, has left me with a sour taste. The one-day public hearing was a farce, with practically no advanced notice provide to stakeholders. It was clear from the get-go that this government was simply going through the motions, with no real intent of making any changes to the proposed legislation.
Conservative MPP Frank Klees, who I think would agree with me on that point, made the following comments in the Legislature during final debate: “I received an e-mail that, quite frankly, concerned me as a member of this Legislature and as a former minister…I’d like to you listen to this, Speaker, because you will be interested, as will any other member of this Legislature, to know the arrogance with which some stakeholders approach this place: ‘As for the amendments, we have none, and in fact I would go further and say that we would be very strongly opposed to any amendment. This is our bill. Every period, every comma, every semicolon was put there by us, and we would be very, very unhappy were it to be amended in any way’.”
I find it disturbing that any lobby group – any organization – was able to write its own legislation and is chummy enough with our government that they could seemingly will it through the legislative process untouched. I find that startling.
But to its credit, the OTA (I should point out Klees did not say which stakeholder sent him the aforementioned e-mail) was bent on making this happen, and they saw it through right til the end. They pushed for this with a united voice that showed no signs of cracking – at least publicly – at any time over the last two and a half years. They got dozens of strong-headed fleet managers to agree on an issue (that alone is amazing) and showed no chinks in their armour at any time in their pursuit of making this law. But in the process, what has come to the surface is the great divide that exists between the carrier community and its drivers. The ongoing debate on this blog and the flood of e-mails and phone calls we’ve received here at Truck News attest to that. Wounds have been created, which may take some time to heal.
Time will tell how this all shakes out.
And on that note, I’m off for a couple weeks. I’m getting married in the Dominican Republic and will be back in early July.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • The Death Knoll has just rung for the owner/operator. The OTA seems to have a problem with the “independent” operator, the man/woman who has pulled Ontario trucking companies out of hot water for many years. When truck prices went up or when available equipment was scarce, “The Big Trucking Companies” said let’s just hire O/O’s and cover our loads for cheap. Now that capacity has shifted and “We” are not as valuable, we are just left out to be “pooped” on by the same people who a few years ago couldn’t have kept their customers without us.
    To all the owner/ops left, Good Luck. To those others, Good Riddance. I, for one, am quiting trucking. 24 years, a couple of million miles safely travelled, friends, comrades and customers over North America, but enough is enough. Maybe sometime down the road I may return. It was the freedom that I loved about this industry. The last 6 years have eroded our pocket books till nothing but lint is coming up. And now “they” want that too. It is sooo frustrating that certain groups of people with 0 miles behind the wheel of a truck can go off at the mouth about something that will not in no way effect them but have a everlasting effect on the ones who make (or at least try) money by driving trucks.
    My only hope is that we will go the route like Europe. Limited speed and PAYED BY THE HOUR!!!!. But then the members of certain Associations will certainly find fault with that scenario.
    Now that this “wonderful”, Earth saving legislation has been shoved through maybe we truck drivers should put through, in the same manner, legislation that requires the big glass offices, in the name of saving Planet Earth, to shut down the A/C, open a few windows for fresh air instead, be accountable for EVERY piece of paper that is used because trees are good for the Earth, take a flight of stairs or two instead of using electrically driven exercise machines. Just think of the GHG we could save!
    To all the good Owner/Ops left out there, I say “Catch ya Later”. I gave my truck away and now I am just a “civilian” working an 8 hour day. But, when I work a little extra now, they pay me time and a half!!! No more fines for working hard. Who da thought.
    Thanks all, Stan

  • Here is a copy of a letter I sent to various organizations and publications.
    It is aimed at people that voted the first NDP government in awhile ago.
    Did you enjoy your choice?
    This debate is the aftermath and result of that decision.
    As stated in my letter, this is NOT about speed limiters, it is about the process. Heck, most of older guys stopped going over a 100 klicks many years ago!
    In the June issue of Truck News I was mildly amused (and impressed) by all the signatories at the end of the letter “OTA Carriers take issue with comment.” If you thought Ms. Ritchie was insulting, (when in fact she was just stating the facts as she and her organization see them) I can hardly wait to see your reaction to this!
    While I have never met or spoken to Ms. Ritchie I applaud her and her organization on their stance on speed limiters, because this is not just about speed limiters. Any clear thinking, sane, rational person will realize it sooner or later. No, I’m afraid this has tentacles that reach much further than the story itself. (More in a minute about that)
    I have not seen one piece of proof from any credible agency that speed limiters for large trucks will (a) reduce greenhouse emissions as stated or (b) improve highway safety. (How fast do you think trucks are driving at well over a dollar a litre? Do you think that the price of fuel will fall to 42 cents again and all trucks will immediately start doing 120?)
    Where’s your proof David Bradley? Is Ms. Ritchie supposed to take your word for it because you’re the O.T.A.? Do you consider your organization a credible agency? Of course you do, and you have the members to prove it don’t you? Why just look at all those dues paying members at the end of the letter. As I said, impressive!
    With regard to the further reaching tentacles comment, whenever private organizations such as the OTA (Let’s call them the farmer) get into bed with the government as the OTA is well noted for doing, (they call it working with the government, this is not the proper term, the proper term is collusion. This is because their interference is designed to benefit only their members and not the industry as a whole) the ultimate and inevitable result is chaos! For example, laws that are not designed to promote safety within our industry or to save the environment, (Look at the debacle that’s been created by the new HoS for example, I wonder who had a hand in that) but instead we get laws that are customized to suit a single entity. (Damn the rest of the industry, unless you’re a dues payer.) The more members the better (Let’s call them the sheep.)
    Well sheep, one day soon, the government is going to make a law (without consulting the farmer first) that even you won’t be able to swallow.
    What will the farmer do? I’ll leave that up to your imagination, based on their (and your) track record thus far.
    If you’re a sheep, I know how you will answer, so please, spare me the cliché’s, I’ve heard it all before and frankly, your answers are illogical and just plain boring.
    If you’re truck driver or business owner, and have gone along for the ride, take a look at that headlight in the very far distance.
    YES, you can see it, can’t you? That is exactly what you have created and deserve, and you will now suffer the consequences of your sheep philosophy.
    To those of you like Ms. Ritchie and her organization, I wish you the best for recognizing the path of the farmer and the sheep and for refusing to follow it. Keep up your fight no matter how depressing it becomes, even when it seems as though there is no rational thought to be found anywhere.
    You will be surprised one day when you look back and see an army of sane, rational, logical people behind you, the kind of people that believe in laissez-faire capitalism. (Translation for the sheep, in part, – the philosophy of avoiding government controls in economic matters)
    You gained this old drivers respect and there’s a lot more of us out there.
    To all the sheep that signed the letter I say, it won’t be long now fellows so watch out for that headlight, it gets a bit closer every day.
    Here’s an idea – instead of wasting your time berating a woman for speaking the truth, read something by Ayn Rand, trust me you’ll hate it but, I’m sure you wouldn’t begrudge an old driver such a good laugh after 42 years in this industry!
    To the publisher of Truck News – Thank you for printing both sides of the story. Please keep it up, no matter how much the sheep cry.

  • The only thing this new law is going do is make the people in cars angry because on the 2 lane sections of the 401 hwy the trucks will occupy both lanes for miles while they try to pass each other.
    I have driven for the past 38 yrs, have “only 3 minor accidents, and I have never lost points nor do I have points on my CVOR. But I will be one of the ones out in the passing lane trying to pass and I will be legal and if a car is behind trying to pass then it can stay there unti I pass.
    Most U.S. trucking will not turn their trucks back just run in Canada so this plan.The people this going to hurt most is the Owner Operators and the Government and the MORON that is head of the OTA that they do not care.
    Thank you

  • Well! You think that people in cars are angry now, wait awhile. As usual a country with over 30 million people and we cannot find any politician with half a brain. These are the morons passing or introducing legislation. This is why I have not voted in many years, as I would rather vote for a jackass then any of these empty headed, touchy feeling, tree hugging politicians. I truly believe that being a politician is a mental disorder, and that goes for the OTA which in my view is a political rag, which I do not read, would not read, and If I were stuck on the side of the road and needed toilet paper that is the first thing I would reach for. As for the Americans! If certain US states decide that we are discriminating and trying to legislate their trucks, then why would they not regulate Canada into higher speeds or stay off their highways. Bozo the clown could have come up with better ideas. Oh wait! Maybe Bozo the clown is in Ottawa or at the OTA. What a revelation!