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UPDATED: Justice of the peace tosses speed limiter ticket; OTA unfazed

WELLAND, Ont. -- An Ontario justice of the peace today ruled that the province’s speed limiter law for heavy trucks is unconstitutional, and dismissed a charge against truck driver Gene Michaud.


WELLAND, Ont. — An Ontario justice of the peace today ruled that the province’s speed limiter law for heavy trucks is unconstitutional, and dismissed a charge against truck driver Gene Michaud.

In an e-mail to clients and allies, lawyer David Crocker said: “We received judgment today in Gene Michaud’s case where we challenged the speed limiter legislation. We won. The court held that the legislation violates section 7 of the Charter of Rights.”

The ruling was lauded by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which covered the cost of Michaud’s court challenge.

In an interview with Land Line Magazine, OOIDA’s official publication, association president Jim Johnston said the ruling was significant.

“This is really the reason we took this case on to start with, and funded it, not only because of the impact on our Canadian members, but the even greater impact it could have on our US members, both those who travel in Canada as well as those who may be subject to similar types of rulings in the US,” Johnston told Land Line. “Right now, we’re battling with ATA and other interests that very much want to see speed limiters put on trucks.”

But David Bradley, head of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance, which lobbied for the law, saw it differently. Asked by Trucknews.com how concerned he was on a scale of one to 10 that the ruling could result in the law being revisited, Bradley seemed unfazed.

“On a scale of one to 10 my concern is zero,” he told Trucknews.com. “There is no precedent value to the case. People challenge tickets every day and sometimes win. It means nothing; the law stands. You’d have to ask MTO whether they intend to appeal or not. I don’t think it makes a difference.”

Crocker, the lawyer who represented Michaud, told the Canadian Press that he feels the Ontario government should withdraw the legislation. He said limiting truck speed to 105 km/h jeopardizes driver safety, rather than enhance it.

Justice of the Peace Brett Kelly was quoted by local radio station Newstalk 1010 as saying: “Inability to accelerate, or not accelerate fully places a driver in a less than safe situation because we have taken some of the tools required to drive properly away from the driver. Mr. Michaud needs to be able to take certain precautions in the execution of his job that will take him out of harm’s way and keep him and those around him safe.”

Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, admitted this one ruling won’t be enough to overturn the law, but she said it was a “the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.”

“It could be the first nail in the coffin of this useless law that does nothing but divert resources away from policies and enforcement that could contribute to road safety,” Ritchie told Trucknews.com. “While this particular victory won’t strike down the law, it’s a move in the right direction. No doubt the province will appeal, wasting more time and money, but at least a superior court will have the benefit of this precedent-setting case to guide its judgment.”

The ruling comes on the heels of a new report indicating Ontario road safety improved in 2009, which the province attributed in part to its speed limiter legislation.

For more information, you can read the Land Line report here and the Newstalk 1010 report here.


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19 Comments » for UPDATED: Justice of the peace tosses speed limiter ticket; OTA unfazed
  1. Ray Gompf says:

    The first glimmer of sanity to be shown on this issue. Simply put, speed limiters are unsafe — period.

  2. Renaud says:

    MTO get beat in court all the time on this new law!!

  3. Dennis Buswell says:

    Simply put, if the province did their job and enforced the speed limits already in place on our roadways, the speed limiter law would become redundant.

  4. Martin says:

    Although I understand the concept behind the arguments of the Speed Limiter Law I wonder if the professional drivers out there understand that not all drivers are professional drivers while on our highways driving 125 km’s beside one of your family members. I too drove for a lot of years and have witnessed drivers with the pedal to metal heading home.
    I may have a little misunderstanding here however, could someone please give me an instance as to why heavy trucks need to go faster than 100 km’s an hour while travelling down the 401?

  5. AL says:

    So, now it won’t take 20 minutes or longer for one truck to pass another? This will take away from the 4-wheeler’s road rage and the need to retaliate. That will be a good thing and make it safer for everybody. Also the center lane with long lines of trucks trying to get past the fully loaded heavy (slower) trucks or the LCV’s that will still be limited? (at 95 kph) Hopefully the speed-limiter laws will be stuck down in Ontario, Quebec and everywhere else!

  6. Ed Murdoch says:

    I said it in February of 2006 and I will say it again, “It isn’t fast trucks that create safety issues, it’s fast drivers!” Spend the industry’s tax dollars on enforcement of the existing speed laws for ALL drivers, not just the professional operators.

  7. Ken says:

    @Martin;

    You are right, there is no need for a truck (or any other vehicle) to be going fasten than the posted speed limit while traveling on the 401, however we all know that the average speed travelled on these roads are not even close to the 100km’s you mentioned. And here is an even more important fact that you fail to understand…the majority of these heavy truck’s spend the majority of their time operating in the United States where the speed limit in many states is 70 miles per hour or 113km’s. Last I checked Toronto wasn’t the center of the universe. This speed limiter law is simply unsafe.

  8. Mike says:

    Of course the OTA is unfazed by this, this law was brought about by the head of the OTAs David Bradley. he only brought this law into effect as a stepping stone for him to further his career into politics (transportation minister). the only laws that need to be enforced are the existing ones. the difference in speeds (cars to trucks) (Canada to USA) is clearly a safety issue.

  9. DieselDummy says:

    “The government provided no research papers to show the use of speed limiters has resulted in increased safety and a decrease in collision rates in jurisdictions that have implemented them”.

    Gotta love it, what a farce!

    “When directly asked by this court how the government arrived at the 105 kilometre-per-hour number the answer was that they did not know”.

    Brilliant! Need I say more?

    “The ability to pass slower vehicles is hampered by the speed limiter, Michaud said, and it causes him to impede traffic flow when doing so”.

    I have witnessed this on countless occasions, the company truck I drive is governed at 100 km/h, passing is rarely an option at that speed, as it is usually unsafe to do so. When I do decide to pass, you four wheelers will just have to put up with me taking 3 or 4 extra minutes to pass another trucker. Or do what most four- wheelers do and blow past me doing 120+ km/h! Speed limiters are unsafe!

    Be safe out there.

  10. George says:

    What everyone seems to forget (especially the ones with a degree in stupidity) is that we all ready have speed limiters that my tax dollars are paying for.They are called the OPP.How about some enforcement instead of this lacksadaisical attitude of selective ticketing!

  11. Bernie VanPelt says:

    Awesome work Mr. Crocker. We have collectively been working at challenging this law and this victory is well deserved. I am hoping that the Ontario Court of Appeal will dismiss the crown appeal of the case we have before them in respect to the insufficiency of the sort form wording. At the first level of appeal we (Your Traffic Ticket Terminators, London)won and we wait impatiently for a confirmation from the Ontario Court of Appeal of the lower courts appeal decision. I believe there are a few other angles of attack out there waiting for decisions. To all who fight this battle — keep up the good work.

  12. AV says:

    Finally a stupid law has been challenged and beaten! As an o/o myself, it is incredibly frustrating being capped at 105 and everyone else can drive at whatever speed they like. Speed doesn’t cause accidents. It’s drivers paying attention to everything else except driving while operating a motor vehicle. And if limiters should be put on trucks, then every vehicle in Ontario should have them.

    And how brilliant of the McGuinty Gov’t to pass legislation without any proof or support that the law will work. Seems McGuinty operates all of his departments in the same manor(Ornge).

    And David Bradley should maybe jump into a truck to find out how stupid this law really is. Maybe he should worry about doing his job and stop worrying about his own political aspirations.

    Good job Justice Kelly.

  13. meslippery says:

    So we are to be trusted not to do 105 kph in a school zone. Just not trusted on the 401.
    Really.

  14. paul says:

    I have posted comments on this page very carefully before without any improper comments and you have always dumped them so I think personally it is just a waste of my time even reading or answering any these postings.

    thankyou Paul Korn

  15. Peter Warren says:

    There are some good points being made here.My question is Who does David Bradley work for? Seems whatever entity it is they are using the government to over step the rights of the people here.The owner operator might ask “Who is paying the bills here” for good reason too.They would assume the right to decide how fast the vehicle drives and expect the minister of transportation to be the public servant he is suppose to be and remain unbiased.But it appears that this entity thinks for him and so since these owner operators are subsidized by fuel surcharges that gives them all the right they need to assume control of the trucking industry.I use to say its a big dogs game.Well maybe for now it still is but it could be a slippery slope for free enterprise?

  16. Matt says:

    If there should be any speed limiters at all, they should be put on some cars. More than 3 speeding or more dangerous infractions before your 25th birthday would be a good guideline. They shouldn’t be limiting speeds of the safest drivers on the roads. That being truck drivers. Just a thought.

  17. Cary says:

    Here is a new concept for our Canadian friends in government. You should try enforcing the speed limits if you want trucks to slow down. It’s tried and proven concept here in the USA!

  18. meslippery says:

    Cary do you know a lot of truck drivers with
    a lot of speeding tickets and still driving a truck?
    Good luck with that here in Canada.
    Insurance Companies will not allow it.
    Let just say there is no problem with speeding trucks,but if its not mandated drivers will
    often go with work where there not speed limited.
    This really pisses off big carriers.
    Thats why we have this law, No truck speeding
    problem. You can blast through town well over the
    limit but we are professionals.

  19. Carl mcsween says:

    If there is a need for a speed limiters why not have it on cars, this law is discriminatory and should be declared unconstitutional, truck drivers are certainly not worst drivers than the car drivers…Plus tractors are inspected on a regular basis and the drivers have to do a pre-departure inspection.

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