TORONTO, Ont. –The Ontario Legislature has passed a bill that will require all trucks operating in the province to have their speeds mechanically limited to no more than 105 km/h.
The controversial Bill 41 was passed June 16, following a spirited final debate in the Ontario Legislature.
The controversial law will cover all heavy trucks operating in the province that were built since the mid-90s when electronic speed limiters became standard. The new law will be implemented as early as fall, 2008, and will be followed by a six-to 12-month education period, the Ontario Liberals announced.
“Speed limiters slow down trucks, help keep our roads safe and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is another step forward in our plan to build a cleaner, greener and stronger province,” said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.
“The mandatory activation of speed limiters is an effective way for the trucking industry to further contribute to safer highways and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” added Ontario Trucking Association chief, David Bradley. “The fuel savings from speed limiters will also help to moderate the increases in operating costs from escalating diesel fuel prices. This is the right thing to do.”
The OTA says the law will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 280,000 tonnes.
Non-compliance will cost truckers a minimum fine of $250 and a maximum of $20,000, as Bill 41 is written.
“As members would know, the proposed legislation will cap the speed of large trucks built after 1995 at 105 kilometres per hour,” Minister Bradley said during third reading in the Legislature June 16. “Ontario is a leader in road safety, and we’re always looking for ways to make our highways even safer. This legislation presents us with a key opportunity to improve road safety for our families, while at the same time helping to protect our environment, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy a cleaner and greener future. Cutting emissions from large trucks can only help our environment. The reality is that over one-third of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and 84% of this comes from road transportation. This is why speed limiters are so important to all Ontarians, not only to those who share the road with large trucks.”
He said Ontario will work closely with Quebec to harmonize speed limiter legislation with that province.
Bradley also said “This legislation is fair because it treats all truck drivers and companies the same while driving in Ontario. At the same time, it is flexible. With today’s technology, operators will also have the option of investing in devices that will allow drivers to switch speed limiters on and off when in jurisdictions with higher speed limits.”
The Bill wasn’t without its critics. Conservative MPP Frank Klees, a vocal opponent of speed limiters, stood in the Legislature during final debate and suggested the law should extend to all vehicles if it’s going to be applied to trucks. He also favoured stepped up enforcement over speed limiter legislation.
“If we are concerned about road safety, then let’s look at the big picture and let’s start with enforcing the speed limiters that we already have in place in this province, called speed limits. Let’s enforce that,” Klees said. “Let’s get the message out, not only to trucking companies and truck drivers but to everyone who gets behind a wheel, that the government of Ontario is serious about road safety, that we will enforce our speed limits and that there will be consequences for people who ignore those speed limits.”
Klees was especially disappointed that none of the amendments he proposed to the Bill were adopted.
Predictably, the passage of the law drew the ire of owner/operator organizations such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers’ Association (OOIDA) and Owner/Operators’ Business Association of Canada.
OOIDA vowed to challenge the legality of the legislation, which it feels violates NAFTA. OOIDA, after seeking legal counsel in Canada, said it will file a Notice of Intent to challenge the law once it is officially implemented.
“We are vigorously pursuing all appropriate legal remedies to protect the right of truckers, big and small, to compete fairly and safely across international and provincial borders,” said Rick Craig, director of regulatory affairs with OOIDA.
OOIDA argues that the new law creates an impediment to interprovincial and international trade by restricting access to trucks from other regions that don’t have speed limiter laws of their own.
“We believe the new law discriminates against US-based companies as well as Canadian trucking companies based outside of Ontario by restricting their ability to operate freely throughout Canada,” added Craig.
“The reasons given by proponents for passing the bill were nothing more than a red herring and will infringe upon the rights of all extraprovincial truckers who want to pursue their livelihoods to operate throughout Canada.”