Having been away for a little bit of vacation time I've missed the opportunity to write in this space. What I didn't miss was the ongoing fuss created by the transportation ministers of Ontario (forme...
Having been away for a little bit of vacation time I’ve missed the opportunity to write in this space. What I didn’t miss was the ongoing fuss created by the transportation ministers of Ontario (former), and of Quebec in particular, who continue to advocate for speed limiters on trucks.
The arguments for both sides have been made over and over again in this and other trade press, and it is not my intention to revisit them in this article.
I fully expect that Ontario’s new transportation minister Jim Bradley will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to express their thoughts on the pervading practice of speeding on Ontario’s highways.
Ontario Ministry staff already graciously invited and received our views as they began, on the instructions of the former minister, the process of drafting legislation and I believe those views will be taken into account as they proceed.
As well, we should all keep in mind that Transport Canada has embarked on what appears to be an extensive study of the whole speed limiter issue with results expected early in the new year.
The study will examine how such legislation would impact the environment, enforcement, road safety, and trade competitiveness, and will also consider the experience of other jurisdictions. It might be a good idea to at least wait for the results of this study before moving precipitously to create legislation that may need to be undone or changed later on.
Moving on to a tangentially related topic, it did interest me to read the reported results of the first couple of months of ticket activity under Ontario’s new regime of increased penalties for speeding and road racing.
You will recall that speeding offences for over 50 km/h over the posted speed limit are now punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and impoundment of the vehicle. That level of punishment would, one would think, give anyone a reason to slow down.
But apparently Ontario’s roads are clogged with slow learners if not slow drivers.
OPP Chief Julian Fantino reported that in the early days of this new regime, an average of 38 tickets per day were issued for speeding over 50 km/h over the posted limit.
One-thousand in the first month alone!
The new penalty levels were introduced as the result of an epidemic of road racing and speeding that took the lives of innocent bystanders and endangered many more.
Ontario’s Premier voiced his anger and frustration and in very short order we had new legislation.
Government can work quickly when pressed to do so.
Clearly speeding is a significant concern to everyone who uses the roads
It is equally clear to me that our legislators need to take a much broader, all-encompassing look at how to deal with speeders. It wouldn’t be popular to electronically limit the speed of all automobiles and I doubt such action is even necessary. But it would be a good idea to deal with chronic speeders a little differently than we do with those who attract the occasional speeding ticket.
PMTC has voiced the opinion that speed limiters on trucks should be mandatory for chronic speeders, be they fleets or individuals. In other words if a fleet can’t control its drivers, or drivers won’t control themselves, let’s do the controlling for them.
In the same vein, what’s wrong with mandating that chronic speeders or those that speed over 50 km/h over the limit be obliged to have any car they are driving fitted with electronic speed control? Coupled with the new penalties this could be an effective method of control.
This idea is similar to the ignition interlock requirement for those convicted of drunk driving. It is aimed at controlling those who cannot manage their impulses or who choose not to do so.
It would also be a way of targeting egregious offenders rather than the public at large.
It would, I dare say, be legislation that would be universally supported by voters (discounting for a moment the idiots who drive at 50-plus km/h over the limit), and should easily and quickly pass into law.
Now I don’t know if this type of technology is readily available today, but I’m willing to bet that given the experience in the first month of the new penalties alone, there is a ready-made market just waiting to be filled.
And that old axiom that nature abhors a vacuum will certainly come into play.
So, lets stop talking about limiting speeds for one sector of road users and address the over-riding problem. Simon & Garfunkel may have said it best: “Slow down, you move too fast.”
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