Summary of the public hearings on speed limiters: Part 2

This is the continuation of my blog report from the public hearings on speed limiters, held at Queen’s Park June 5.
We pick it up with the folks from OOIDA.
10:20 a.m. – Terry Button, OOIDA. First, let me say OOIDA should be commended for coming up to Canada to present their members’ position. This is a powerful lobby group with 162,000 members. However, both presenters (I’ll get to that in a sec) had trouble making their presentation in the 10 minutes allotted, which caused clarity to suffer a bit and left no time for questions. Written submissions could be equally effective after the hearing. I got the sense that the MPPs on the committee were gaining the most useful information during the Q&A sessions that followed each presentation. Nevertheless, both OOIDA presenters made their position very obvious. Button, who runs trucks from New York State into Ontario, saved his strongest comments for the end: “We believe your good intentions are being taken advantage of,” he told the committee. “If you pass this, we will not sit idly by.” He said he has already discussed the issue with his local representatives and he’s convinced there are NAFTA trade implications. He saved the best for last, but again in my opinion it would have been more effective if there was time for follow-up questions.
10:30 a.m. – Tom Weakley, director of operations, OOIDA Foundation. Foundation? Clever way to get two speakers from the same organization onto the docket! Well, they did travel all the way up from the states – I think they deserved more than 10 minutes. Again, Weakley just had too much ground to cover in just 10 minutes and there was no time for follow-up questions. But he presented some great numbers I hadn’t heard before. Like this: It’ll take an extra five to seven minutes to check the speed limiter during every MTO inspection. That could total 43,000 hours of additional delays each year. Yikes. While the OOIDA reps may have been a bit rushed, they did leave the committee with some useful information sheets.
RECESS TIME! Just when things are getting good. A four-hour recess – not enough time to get back to work and accomplish anything, but enough time to take up my entire day. Oh well, I catch part of a matinee Jays game on TV.
2:30 p.m. – Dr. Barry Prentice, University of Manitoba, transportation guru. Prentice warned against speed limiters for a couple of reasons. For one, he said the safety enhancements will not exist because of the creation of wider speed differentials. He also questioned the environmental savings, since cars would be forced to speed up and slow down more frequently to avoid truck traffic, negating any greenhouse gas emission savings from trucks. He cited some stats that contradicted earlier stats from OTA members. He also cited research which the committee seems eager to take a closer look at. It seemed like Prentice, with his impressive accolades and transportation knowledge, gave the committee some things to think about.
2:40 p.m. – Dorothy Sanderson, professional driver. Kudos to Dorothy, the only trucker who ventured down to Queen’s Park to have her say. She argued vehemently against Bill 41. It was refreshing to see a trucker take to the mic. She even garnered an applause from the NDP members – albeit, it was after slamming Transport Minister Jim Bradley.
2:50 p.m. – Ray Gompf, Canadian Owner/Operators Co-op. The premise of his speech was that engines don’t necessarily emit less when they’re running slower. Lower RPMs mean an engine has to work harder, producing more emissions. He said owner/ops can’t afford to re-spec’ their trucks and said at the very least, existing trucks should be grandfathered.
3:00 p.m. – Jeff Bryan, Jeff Bryan Transport. Bryan held up well on the hot seat during questioning. He raises a good point: If Bill 41’s going to hurt the pocketbooks of fleets and/or owner/operators, why is it that the loudest proponents of the bill, which already govern their trucks, are amongst the most successful and safest fleets? “The policy will improve the image of our industry and it will improve safety on our roads.”
3:10 p.m. – Joanne Ritchie, OBAC. This is where things took a turn for the peculiar. Nowhere to be seen, Joanne called in on her cell phone from the 10 Acre Truck Stop in Belleville. She bemoaned the short notice provided for the hearing and said she’d been up all night preparing her presentation. On her drive in from Ottawa, fatigue caught up with her and she had to pull over to rest. Now, I don’t know if it was a clever ploy aimed at hammering home the point that the notice given for the hearing was inadequate? (The way they rushed this hearing really was a joke – honestly, how many truckers could be expected to attend?) Regardless, her call – and her inability to make the hearing – made an impression. The committee agreed that if she could not make it in, then it stood to reason that most truckers would also have difficulty appearing. They agreed, almost certainly as a result of this call, to extend the deadline for written comments to June 10. They also agreed to accept Ritchie’s presentation at a later time.
And on that odd note, it was a wrap. The MPPs agonized over the fact they had been presented with two vastly different opinions on the subject over the course of the day. They decided to take more time to solicit feedback from stakeholders. For those of you who sent in faxes and e-mails, I can confirm they were distributed to the committee members. You can keep doing so til June 10. See the Headline News item for details. It may make a difference, regardless of where you stand on the issue. The Opposition MPPs in particular seem willing to explore this issue in more detail before proceeding. That’s our democracy in action and it was fun to watch.

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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 or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Good recap of the day, except what did you think about all of the OTA, CTA, and ATA members who presented as well? David Bradley, Doug Switzer, Brian Taylor are all members of the same organization essentially. I thought it was odd that no one really relied on any stats, studies, or sound science in support of the bill. All of their comments were based on observation and conjecture. For example, when David Bradley said again that he has never heard of any instance where a vehicle has rear ended a truck except where the driver was ‘drunk out of his mind or had a death wish.’ Actually, as I believe Tom Weakley pointed out, according to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study which was conducted I believe by the Department of Transportation in the States, 17% of all truck crashes involved a vehicle rear ending a truck. (Btw, the data is not further categorized by suicidal nor over served drivers.) In addition, OOIDA conducted a survey of its membership on speed limiter sentiments (Tom also referred to this as well) and fear of being rear ended was cited repeatedly. Regardless, the guys from OOIDA did have too much information, but at the same time, they prepared to have a debate and the lack of information in support of the bill was so underwhelming that it really shouldn’t be a contest, but alas promises were made to David Bradley. When discussing safety and the environment, one would think you would want to look toward the leading research on the matter. Ray Barton, Stephen Johnson, Dr. Barry Prentice are all well respected transportation researchers who were cited repeatedly by the opposition.
    Also, in response to your notion that the proponents of the bill have a good argument when they say ‘how are they still in business if this is such a bad idea.’ Well, let’s tweak that a bit. If it is such a competitive advantage and helps the bottom line of big business trucking companies then why do they want the competition aka small business guys to save money and stay in business? Do we really believe that these big businesses are doing this out of sincere concern for the environment and safety? In fact, isn’t the ATA currently threatening to sue the ports in California (where there are serious air quality concerns linked to astronomically disproportionate rates of cancer and asthma in residents) for their Clean Trucks Program because they believe it will block ATA drivers from entering the ports? This is about addressing a few issues, a perceived driver shortage (drivers leave the big companies after a few years because they are typically underpaid and don’t like hassles like speed limiters), leveling the competitive playing field, and paving the way for the next item on their list triple trailers and bigger, heavier trucks. What gurus of safety!!!
    It should also be noted that Tom Weakley actually received about 8 minutes to speak, but hey, who is counting…
    And also, Terry Button is a driver too. He has driven for 30 years. Dorothy and Terry were both fantastic.
    Good recap though!

  • Dorothy Sanderson does NOT represent the interests of the members of Women In Trucking and was speaking on behalf of herself only. The board of directors of Women In Trucking has NOT met to determine whether or not this issue should be supported or opposed, and Ms. Sanderson was testifying only to express her personal viewpoint. This was NOT a opinion endorsed by Women In Trucking.

  • Jeff Bryan,Said The loudest and most safest supporters are fleets that already governed their trucks. This is why these big name fleets have a habit of duct tapping their names on their trucks before the tow trucks have even had a chance to stand them back on their wheels on a ramp rollover!Now I’ve been licenced as a truck driver even before Class “A” licences where issued a ramp rollover is caused by too much “RIGHT FOOT” something a speed limiter will not prevent!So Mr.Jeff Bryant why don’t you produce some of these so called “safe carriers C.V.O.R. SAFETY RECORDS” which show the accidents and the causes?It would add clarity to the issue instead of clouding it!What ever happen to the the term”THIS WILL LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD!”This tract did’nt work so we’ll go to plan “B”.Bottom line drivers ow/op’s wages wiil fall companies will prosper,YOU WANT TO USE THE EUROPEAN MODEL USE THE WHOLE THING NOT THE THE PARTS THAT SUIT BIG COMPANIES PAY DRIVERS BY THE HOUR AS THEY DO IN EUROPE!

  • Hello:
    People need to read my speech to know what I said.I do not profess to know everything but as a Woman who has spent 90% of her adult life in the Trucking Industry as either an Owner/Operator or now as an employer I have more than paid my way.
    Perhaps Truck News will publish it in its entirety for all to view and make their own opinions.

  • I don’t believe any operator is against safety or saving fuel! It’s plain to see that the case for speed limiters has not been made clear to many operators! One would have thought that after all this time we would have performed some actual down the road test case scenarios with all the players involved? If this had taken place we wouldn’t be having these discussions now! Such as, the OEM’s who spec’, design and make the equipment to customer operating requirements, a study observing and recording interaction with traffic at 105 in highway area’s of concern, fuel economy runs with fleets running over a wide variety of terrain! What about the experts who design and build our highways to predicted traffic patterns? I’m sure traffic safety is a key part of highway design! Dr. Barry Prentice and others at the public hearing has some very valid points that cast a shadow over the advantages of Speed limiters and 105! I like the idea and flexibility of using a 105 mean average limit for drivers! A 105 flex speed apparently would not take too much to implement and would offer the industry a way to test the waters and confirm or negate the necessity of going to a fixed 105 speed!

  • The real motive behind speed limiters is not about safety or emissions. The companies pushing so hard for the government to mandate the speed limiters can set speed limitations on their trucks themselves without government intervention being imposed on the rest of the industry. The real reason is to counter the driver recruiting advantage the companies with the faster trucks have over them. The companies leading this iniative already pay lower wages to their drivers than other companies. I have not read any news about these companies raising drivers pay rates to compensate for the loss of mileage income the drivers will suffer because of the slower speeds. This is simply a ploy to remove one more disadvantage in driver hiring they are imposing upon themselves.
    This is just a blatant con job. I hope our government officials will the wisdom and good judgement to see they are being used to further the hidden agenda of these companies.

  • Why all the foss? Enforce the speed limits of our roads with a heavy fine if passed by more than 10km and problem solved.