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Private Links: The speed limiter debate rages on

The decision by the Ontario Trucking Association to promote the compulsory use of speed limiters on all Class 6, 7 and 8 trucks operating on Ontario roads has proven to be one of, if not the most, con...

Bruce Richards

Bruce Richards

The decision by the Ontario Trucking Association to promote the compulsory use of speed limiters on all Class 6, 7 and 8 trucks operating on Ontario roads has proven to be one of, if not the most, controversial suggestions visited upon the trucking community in many years.

The OTA’s decision to go public with this recommendation after soliciting the support of other industry associations brought about a level of reaction that I’m sure no one could have anticipated. Letters to the editor, calls to offices like ours, and the talk around the water cooler have combined against the proposal almost before it had a chance.

While enjoying support in limited quarters, it’s fair to say that the proposal has been the subject of vitriolic letters and commentary. The overwhelming majority of responses to date are negative.

A pessimist might surmise that the negative reaction came solely from drivers who don’t want to be controlled, but that is not entirely the case. Along with PMTC, other industry associations are on record as not supporting the proposal.

The PMTC’s Board of Directors discussed the proposal after we had received a copy from the OTA, and arrived at a decision not to support it. When asked by the Ministry of Transportation for our views we sent them along.

As many of you know it is not our practice to argue our point of view in public. We prefer to deal directly with Ministry officials to resolve issues and we were initially content that the Ministry had our views and would consider them along with other submissions on the subject.

However, this is such a controversial issue that we soon found ourselves responding to calls from editors, carriers, and most importantly our members, all seeking to know and understand the PMTC’s position. Those calls have taken us public as it were. We now feel that it would better serve the debate if we were to declare our position a little more publicly and support it with our thinking.

It must be said that the risk of not supporting a proposal such as this is that our association and others that have come out against it, could be perceived as being anti-safety. Let’s lay that to rest. Our record over the past 28 years confirms our support of safety-related initiatives in the trucking community.

Rather, it is our position that the proposal lacks the support information that would confirm that the issue of speeding trucks is of such magnitude that speed limiters should be mandatory on all trucks in the province.

Keep in mind that one of the most quoted sections of the OTA’s own proposal states “trucks are the least likely vehicles to be speeding on Ontario’s highways.”

With that as a backdrop, we asked the Ministry of Transportation to provide statistical data that would help us determine the magnitude of the problem. The Ministry advised that it is unable to quantify the issue of speeding trucks, which could lead to the conclusion that it may not be a significant issue.

Statistics for 2003 indicate that some 20,600 Class ‘A’ drivers received speeding tickets compared with some 587,000 such tickets for class G licence holders. Of those Class ‘A’ convictions, 60 per cent were for speeding at the lower end of the scale: i.e., up to 15 km/h over the limit.

Further, the Ministry is unable to determine whether those Class ‘A’ drivers who were ticketed were driving a truck or the family car at the time – an important differentiation if one believes that speeding trucks are prevalent on Ontario’s roads.

We are not cavalier about speeding trucks. Of course they represent a danger. But responsible carriers have established speed policies for their fleets and are already monitoring the speeds of their trucks. So if it is the few ‘bad apples’ scenario, perhaps increased enforcement and penalties, along with more targeted enforcement could resolve the issue.

Without proof that truck speeding is a significant, out-of-control issue we cannot support a regulation that would require speed limiters for all trucks.

However, we have another suggestion to offer. PMTC could seriously consider mandatory speed limiters for chronic offenders – fleets or individuals – based on evidentiary proof of a problem and convictions for speeding. That would follow the lead of the program requiring those convicted of impaired driving in Ontario to have an ignition inter-lock system installed.

Under that program, after a conviction for impaired driving, drivers are required to have an ignition inter-lock installed on any vehicle they drive for a prescribed period of time. Chronic speeders could be required to have speed limiters installed and activated.

To date, reaction from PMTC members and others aware of our position has been overwhelmingly supportive. I invite your comments as well.

-The PMTC is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. Your comments can be addressed to

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