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Why speed limiters really are necessary

As you can tell from James Menzies' editorial running above mine, the divisiveness over Ontario's proposed speed limiter legislation extends to our newsroom. When the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA...




As you can tell from James Menzies’ editorial running above mine, the divisiveness over Ontario’s proposed speed limiter legislation extends to our newsroom. When the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) first announced its intent to push for a law that would require the use of speed limiters I, unlike James, did see the need for such legislation.

I still do.

The reasons speed limiters make a lot of sense to me have to do with both safety and the environment.

And specifically, the government and public’s perception of our industry’s willingness to take the lead in being be a positive force on both those fronts.

According to the OTA, speed limiting trucks to 105 km/h will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 280 kilotonnes per year.

Now I haven’t done the math myself. I don’t know if that figure is bang on or way overinflated. But let’s just assume that it’s overinflated and that greenhouse gas emissions will only be reduced by half that amount.

Keep in mind that transportation activities generate more than one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and, just as important, the transportation sector is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

And that trucking is the largest emitter among the commercial modes.

Does it make sense for the industry to walk away from a plan that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions -to whatever degree – when that’s a challenge all industries are expected to help in overcoming?

How does it look to politicians and the public when it’s reported that truckers don’t want to limit their speeds to five kilometres above the speed limit on our largest highways even though they know this will help the environment?

I realize I’m grossly oversimplifying the issue, but that’s exactly how the public will see it.

And let’s be honest with ourselves, although they may be a minority, there are still enough trucks out there zipping by at 130 km/h to give the industry a black eye it can do without.

Proponents of speed limiters also say it will improve highway safety.

Again, I’m not sure how much of an effect it would actually have because our highways are already among the safest in North America. But if it can stop the crazies running at 130 km/h (and at the same time complaining about diesel prices), then why not have speed limiter legislation?

Would it be better for an accident to occur involving a truck operating at an excessive speed and to have the general media report the industry was opposed to policing its speed through speed limiters?

When issues become politicized and polarized, it’s often at the cost of losing perspective.

I think it’s important not to lose sight of the reality that trucking is just one industry among many competing for attention, funding and favourable treatment.

Its perception among government and the public as a good corporate citizen is not only important but will determine how it’s dealt with in the future. •

-Lou Smyrlis can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6881 or by e-mail at lou@TransportationMedia.ca.


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