No Jaking Around: Truckers reject mandatory engine brake testing

TORONTO — Ontario should do a better job of enforcing the existing noise pollution laws rather than make carrier inspections of engine brakes mandatory.

According to the province’s largest trucking group, the Ontario Traffic Conference (OTC) — an organization that acts on behalf of municipalities to co-ordinate traffic management — is working with the government on a proposal that would require carriers to conduct annual noise level testing for all trucks.

The Ontario Trucking Association takes the position that such an inspection program would be ineffective and too costly as it would force carriers to buy new, expensive, noise testing equipment.

Instead, OTA is calling on provincial enforcement officials to utilize the existing law (section 75 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act) which requires that all vehicles have properly functioning mufflers and is urging that increased emphasis be placed on enforcement of modified truck exhausts during vehicle inspections throughout the year in Ontario by fixed and mobile enforcement.

"The real problem with unnecessary noise from trucks has to do with modified truck exhausts not engine brakes," says Geoff Wood, VP of Operations and Safety at OTA. "The fact is that modern engine brakes, when operated properly, do not actually cause any increase in noise levels. Proposing new laws and by-laws prohibiting the use of engine brakes is a mistake based on a misunderstanding of the real culprit causing the excessive noise problem that municipalities are trying to address."

Wood compares the plan to the development of Ontario’s Drive Clean program, which forces "100 percent of trucks to go through a costly program in order to identify 1 percent of trucks that are a problem."

It’s already illegal to modify exhausts in a manner that would increase the noise they create, adds Wood. Plus, carriers already are required to check exhaust systems annually as part of the trucks annual inspection.

"OTA supports the removal of both passenger and commercial vehicles from public roads when they fail to comply with the law. It’s time that laws already on the books are applied to vehicles breaking noise laws. We don’t need a new program to resolve this matter."

While OTA is sympathetic to the problem of unnecessary truck noise, the proposal is an "overreaction to a relative minority of trucks operating with modified exhausts."

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