MTO’S USE OF RADAR STIRS STRONG FEELINGS AMONG DRIVERS
January 7, 2014
In a Trucknews.com exclusive, I reported just before Christmas that Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is looking to add radar to its arsenal, to help it enforce the province’s controversial speed limiter law restricting trucks to...
In a Trucknews.com exclusive, I reported just before Christmas that Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is looking to add radar to its arsenal, to help it enforce the province’s controversial speed limiter law restricting trucks to 105 km/h. More than 30 readers have weighed in on the comments section with some pretty strong opinions, ranging from appreciation that speeding truckers will finally be taken to task, to outrage that more resources are being focused on trucks rather than four-wheelers. One thing became clear to me in the comments section: that the 115 km/h so-called “evidentiary presumption provision” is not well understood.
To clarify, and MTO officer (or cop) can charge a truck driver with not having a functioning speed limiter (under Sec. 68.1 of the Highway Traffic Act) if the truck is observed going 115 km/h, without having to plug into the ECM. The presumption is that if you’re travelling that fast, it’s a safe bet that you don’t have your speed limiter set to 105. Equipping MTO enforcement vehicles with radar will better support these charges than relying on the speedometer alone. I checked in with truck specialist paralegal (and fellow Loyalist College alumni) Jodi Burness of Burness Paralegal Services for an explanation of how MTO may plan to use radar. One thing is for sure, they’re not making the investment in radar without an expectation they’ll recoup that investment from offending drivers.
“Any officer, MTO or otherwise, have always been entitled to use the speedometer installed in the enforcement vehicles (cruisers) as a way of obtaining evidence to show the commercial vehicle was travelling greater than 115 km/h,” Jodi told me. “I suspect that the officers are being encouraged to use radar so that the evidence appears stronger than simply relying upon the cruiser’s speedometer. Once the evidence is obtained that the vehicle was travelling greater than 115 km/h no further evidence is required to prove the allegation. That means that it will not be necessary to have both the radar evidence and the prohibited ECM settings.”
Jodi also pointed out that Ontario’s speed limiter law is a “strict liability offense,” meaning those charged can dispute the charge, provided they can prove they “took all reasonable care to comply with the law.” She cited one example in which an owner/operator had his speed limiter set to 105, but when he had his truck serviced in the US it was – unbeknownst to him – taken out of compliance and the limiter reset. In Jodi’s view, this driver has a strong case, since he retained the paperwork showing he paid to have the limiter set in the first place. Jodi knows as much about this law as anyone. If you need help fighting a wrongful charge or understanding the legislation, contact her through her firm’s Web site.
Now, back to the reader reaction. It was all over the place. I also polled professional drivers on Twitter to see how they felt about truck enforcement officers using radar. Here are some of the best responses:
@OntarioTrucker: What I’m bothered about is now there will be a duplication of service, which police already provide, at #taxpayers expence.
@FPLAggregates: I’d be happier if they spent some time investigating how some drivers got there licences.
@BluejaysRoger: no big deal, sounds like looking for trucks without speed limiters. more concerned with unwarranted random compliance checks
@angelosgarage: likely to aid in identifying trucks without limiters or gravity fed trucks. Lots of uncapped trucks out here.
@GuyBroderick: It is about time.running the 401 can be like a race track some days.
@crazycanuckdave: I don’t see a problem. Get rid of the 105 mandate and enforce the 100 limit
@Jim_Whitman: Ont has a black & white army with radar, why not just let them use it. Or is this a my yard issue?
@BCTrucker1: good! Enough already, if they aren’t making it at the speed limit, doing 20-30-40 over won’t help!!
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