Ontario speed limiter proposal gains momentum

by James Menzies

TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Julian Fantino has thrown his support behind the Ontario Trucking Association’s (OTA’s) proposal that would require the use of speed limiters on all trucks operating in the province. Also siding with the OTA in April was Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty.

The proposal, since endorsed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance at the federal level, would mechanically limit the speed of all trucks in the province to 105 km/h. The OTA welcomed public comments by Fantino that supported the proposal.

“OTA has been lobbying the government for almost two years now to have the province enact legislation requiring all trucks operating in Ontario to have their engine speed limiters set at no more than 105 km/h, so we’re obviously very happy that the Commissioner has publicly indicated their support for a hard cap on truck speeds,” said OTA president David Bradley.

The OTA says about half the trucking companies operating in Ontario already voluntarily restrict the speeds of their trucks.

“Even though truck drivers are the least likely of all drivers to be operating at excessive speed, there are good environmental, safety and economic reasons for making the activation of speed limiters mandatory,” Bradley said. “Fuel savings of as much as 50 million litres of scarce fossil fuels, a reduction of more than 150 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, less severe car-truck crashes, less tailgating and improper lane changes by trucks, and less stress on truck drivers to feel pressured to speed in order to make deliveries are all among the benefits of limiting truck speeds.”

“After a year and half of debate, discussion and study the time has come for the government to act,” Bradley added. “I can’t understand why they are reluctant to bring in something this positive that has so much support. The safety and environmental benefits are just too significant for this government to continue to ignore this issue and I hope that Commissioner Fantino’s comments will finally spur them to action.”

Just hours after Fantino joined the cause, the Canadian Press reported Ontario Premier McGuinty is also considering the merits of the Ontario Trucking Association’s plan to limit truck speeds to 105 km/h.

“The (transportation) minister and the government, on an ongoing basis, are reviewing various ways that we might continue to improve safety on our roads,” McGuinty told the Canadian Press before a Liberal caucus meeting. “We’re always going to continue to look at various options that we might have when it comes to improving safety.”

Ontario Transport Minister Donna Cansfield expressed her support of the controversial speed limiter proposal at the OTA convention last fall.

“I’m very supportive of the potential of speed limiters (on trucks),” Cansfield re-affirmed. “They obviously can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they save on fossil fuel and (improve) road safety.”

Even opposition parties seem poised to support the initiative. Conservative leader John Tory said “It’s something we should be taking a serious look at, both for safety and the environment. But I think we should do it in a careful way.”

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