ONLINE SPECIAL: Truck dealers ponder role in speed limiter enforcement

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TORONTO, Ont. — With speed limiter laws now on the books in Ontario and Quebec, truck dealers and service centres are beginning to wonder about their legal responsibilities.


Maurice Belanger, sales manager with Cambrian Truck Centre, recently posed a three-pronged question to “Are we responsible to limit the speed of any truck (new or used) to 105 km/h when the initial delivery is done?; What does that say about re-opening the parameters once the customer takes possession?; and would there be any ramifications against us if the truck was involved in an accident due to speed?”


Ontario’s speed limiter law does read that “No person shall drive, or permit the operation of, a commercial motor vehicle on a highway unless the vehicle is equipped with a speed-limiting system that is activated and functioning in accordance with the regulations.”


It further states that no person shall “deactivate, or permit a person to deactivate” a speed limiting system.


Doug Switzer, vice-president, public affairs with the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), says the law was not intended to hold truck dealers and service shops responsible for a carrier’s or owner/operator’s compliance.


“The short answer is no, none of that (wording) applies (to dealers),” he told “When operating on the highway, it’s not the dealer’s responsibility…the only time where they might go after the dealer is if they installed a speed limiter-defeating device that will lie to the engine computer about how fast the wheels are turning; where there’s a willful attempt to bypass the law.”


However, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which is enforcing the law, was less assuring when responding to the same questions.


“The offence of deactivation would be committed by a dealer if the dealer deactivates the speed limiter when it is foreseeable that the truck will be operated on Ontario’s highways immediately upon completion of the work,” MTO spokesperson Bob Nichols told in an e-mail.


By that logic, it would in fact be illegal for an Ontario-based truck dealer to de-activate a speed limiter upon a customer’s request – unless the truck is to be shipped out of province.


While Nichols said there’s “not a specific legal requirement for a dealer to activate the speed limiter before selling a new truck to a customer,” he added, “It would be irresponsible for a dealer not to advise the owner to activate the speed limiter, if the dealer knew that the vehicle was going to be used in Ontario.”


As far as liability in the event of a speed-related accident is concerned, Nichols said “The speed limiter legislation does not speak to civil liability. Dealers should consult with legal counsel to determine how deactivation of a speed limiter might affect their liability.”


Ontario and Quebec are currently in the educational phases of enforcement, and will not be handing out fines under the legislation until July.

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