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Speed limiters: Are they really necessary?

When the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) first announced its intent to usher in a law that would require the use of speed limiters, editorial director Lou Smyrlis and I couldn't agree on the merits...




When the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) first announced its intent to usher in a law that would require the use of speed limiters, editorial director Lou Smyrlis and I couldn’t agree on the merits of the idea. Here we are two and a half years later, and we are still unable to take a united stand on the subject.

Personally, I question the need for the proposed law. I question the time and resources that has been poured into this initiative. I don’t consider speeding trucks to be a major problem on our highways, and as it’s written, the law will only really affect speeding on 400-series highways. Dump trucks barreling through yellow lights on secondary highways, in my opinion a more serious threat to road safety, will not be affected.

I also question the potential benefits of the law. I think the environmental impact has been grossly overstated. They are based on the premise that most trucks are running at speeds well over 100 km/h. That’s simply not the case anymore.

To be fair, there will be some fuel savings once the proposal becomes law. Slowing down obviously saves fuel and even if the law causes a small percentage of the trucks on the road to slow down from speeds above 105 km/h, fuel and emissions savings will be achieved. I just don’t think those savings will be as significant as the numbers being touted by OTA and other proponents of the law.

I will also concede that there may be a modest improvement in overall road safety. While I don’t think the number of truck crashes will be noticeably reduced as a result of the legislation, there’s a chance the severity of some crashes will be lessened. But it’ll be nearly impossible to measure this.

While I don’t think the speed limiter legislation is needed, and I question the real benefits of the proposed rule, I also don’t subscribe to the doomsday scenarios that are feared by many owner/ operators and others who continue to resist the proposed law.

I don’t think the rule will cause a mass exodus of drivers from the industry. I also don’t think roads will become less safe.

I empathize with owner/operators and drivers who are convinced, rightly or wrongly, that their productivity and financial success will be threatened by the law.

There are a lot of drivers who feel this way, and their inability to make fundamental decisions on how to operate their own business is understandably frustrating.

When the OTA first floated its proposal back in 05, I admittedly didn’t think it would get to this point.

But the OTA has pursued this doggedly and has seen it through. It looks like the law will become a reality in Ontario. There’s still time to fight it in other jurisdictions.

Having said all that, it’s not the first major regulatory change to impact the industry and it most certainly won’t be the last. Success is still possible in a post-speed limiter world.

If the law goes through as expected, it may be time to accept the change, however begrudgingly, alter your business operations as required and move forward. •

-James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at jmenzies@trucknews.com.


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