OTTAWA — Canada’s provincial transportation ministries should get ready to deal with the most controversial issue to hit the trucking industry since deregulation. In the coming weeks, they’ll be asked by various trucking associations to make a decision on implementing mandatory speed limiters set at 105 km/h on all trucks.
As TodaysTrucking.com first reported, the Quebec Trucking Association has joined all other provincial trucking groups in lobbying for coast-to-coast adoption of speed limiters. With all associations now on board, the Canadian Trucking Alliance today officially launched the national speed governor campaign reported here earlier this week. (Check out the related Stories link at the bottom of this page for more).
While all five other trucking associations were on the record in endorsing the plan late last year, the QTA did not immediately do so. QTA President Marc Cadieux told French language sister publication Transport Routier that the association was late green lighting the proposal so it could make minor modifications that would “conform with Quebec reality.” He added that the QTA could not immediately get its entire executive together to discuss the issue.
The CTA, which represents 4,500 trucking companies, is essentially taking national the plan first drafted by the Ontario Trucking Association, which would require the ECM on all truck engines be preset at 105 km/h. The Ontario Ministry of Transport has been reviewing the proposal and weighing comments from supporters and critics since December. It said it would make its decision in January, but has not yet done so.
The law, if passed by the various ministries, would apply not only to all Canadian heavy trucks but also to U.S. trucks that come into Canada.
In an interview this week, CTA/OTA boss David Bradley said he hopes the other Canadian jurisdictions approve the plan, but won’t hold back the Ontario campaign in the meantime. “There are lots of cases where we don’t have harmonization and I think Ontario is a big enough market to stand on its own,” he said.
The CTA has spent the last six months promoting possible benefits of speed limiters that include fuel savings; reduced emissions; improved lane discipline; and less severe car-truck crashes.
However, Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada director Joanne Ritchie has spent just as long telling people that that last claim is not necessarily true. She has submitted various studies to the MTO that show in fact a bigger gap in speed differential causes more accidents.
In an interview with TodaysTrucking.com, Ritchie said she isn’t surprised with the national consensus among the associations, but acknowledges it may be even more difficult to make her case on the possible consequences of speed limiters now that there’s a fiscally strong, nation-wide pro-limiter campaign with better ties to the media.
“Government has a role to play in developing safety standards, and in setting and enforcing speed limits on our highways,” she says. “But there are other appropriate ways for government to serve the public good in its dealings with the trucking industry such as maintaining a high level of speed enforcement on roads and highways — particularly for the most serious offenders — and direct enforcement resources toward non-compliant operators, as well as retesting of all drivers with questionable driving records.
“Speed-limiter enforcement, as OTA would have it, is a waste of money, and an inappropriate involvement in the business and competitiveness issues of the industry.””
Ritchie also took exception to comments made by Bradley in the National Post earlier this week. In the article, which reported CTA was on the verge of an official speed limiter announcement, Bradley said the industry needs to “overcome this public perception out there that the truck industry simply pays lip-service to safety” and that “there’s an underbelly of this industry that hasn’t got safety in mind.”
But, says Ritchie, “this doesn’t make sense.” She says the CTA-OTA is hypocritical as it now claims that truck speed is a problem serious enough that it’s worth regulating, while it has spent past years convincing the public that trucks are the safest vehicles on the road.
“The OTA for years has (promoted) solid statistical information on the safety record of the trucking industry, both in Canada and the U.S. Crash statistics, studies on what type of vehicles are speeding, where, and by how much, present clear evidence that ‘trucks are the least likely vehicles to be speeding on (Ontario) highways,'” Ritchie says of OTA’s own research. “In fact, the safety performance of trucks and truck drivers is superior to that of cars and motorists. This is acknowledged by the OTA in their own proposal and they also correctly identify ‘the worst speeders’ as the four-wheelers, noting that ‘most truck drivers are already driving at a maximum speed close to 105 km/h.'”
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