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OTA wants mandatory speed limiters for trucks

The Ontario Trucking Association has launched what may be its most controversial lobby yet -- a bid to put mandator...

The Ontario Trucking Association has launched what may be its most controversial lobby yet — a bid to put mandatory speed limiters in North American trucks.

According to OTA, speed limiters, which are mandated in Europe, provide improved safety, reduced fuel consumption, a more level competitive playing field and put less pressure on drivers.

“All players in the industry should be competing, pricing their services, establishing delivery schedules and meeting customer demands on a level playing field where everyone is playing by the rules and without pressure to operate beyond the rules,” says OTA President David Bradley.

Still, “compared to car drivers, truck drivers are less likely to be speeding,” asserts a press release issued by the OTA in July.

“Nevertheless, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) wants to eliminate any speeding by trucks. Recently, the OTA Board of Directors endorsed the principle that speed limiters on trucks should become mandatory. The association will spend the summer months meeting with stakeholders to nail down the details of its policy which it hopes to then ratify in the fall.”

According to OTA Chairman, Scott Smith, CEO of JD Smith & Sons in Toronto: “The direction of the board is clear — speeding trucks, and trucks that sit in passing lanes, should no longer be tolerated. We’ll talk to carriers, truck drivers, government, police and motorists to answer questions like what speed trucks should be limited to, how to avoid tampering, how to deal with the fact that there are 60 jurisdictions in North America, but we are of the strong view that mandatory speed limitation for trucks is overdue. The technology already exists on current electronic engines. It just needs to be turned on. We’ve got the ability, why not use it?”

Smith recently led an OTA delegation on a fact-finding mission to Europe to confirm that the perception that speed limit compliance and lane discipline by trucks is better in Europe than it is in North America and determine why this is so. OTA representatives visited carriers, drivers, associations, legislators, regulatory officials and enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany and France. Maximum truck speeds in the European Union have been controlled by the mandatory use of speed limiters, sometimes called governors, for years and according to OTA the system works extremely well.

“Speeding by trucks on the major motorways is not an issue in Europe,” says Dan Einwechter, CEO of Challenger Motor Freight in Cambridge, Ont., who was on the trip. “What’s more, the trucking industry there has been supportive of the measures introduced (to control truck speeds) – its created a better safety situation, had a positive impact on fuel consumption, helped to relieve stress on truck drivers and is consistent with leveling the competitive playing field.”

Another member of the OTA delegation, Mark Seymour, CEO of Kriska Transportation in Prescott, Ont. agrees. “The use of mandatory speed limiters works. A speeding truck would stick out like a sore thumb in Europe. In the several hundred kilometres we drove over there, I never once saw a speeding truck. In my view poor lane discipline is a by-product of speeding. In Europe, trucks stick to the inside lane for the most part. It was great to see.”
OTA carriers in favour of the limiters say they do expect some pushback from some trucking companies and truck drivers. But, says Scott Smith, “The benefits (of mandatory speed limitation) far outweigh the costs.” Mark Seymour agrees, “We should never be afraid to do the right thing.” In addition to meeting with equipment manufacturers, government, enforcement agencies and insurance providers, OTA has also engaged a company to conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with truck drivers.

The OTA representatives who visited Europe this spring all agree that a North American-wide approach to mandating speed limiters would be optimal. So, once a comprehensive OTA policy has been developed and adopted this fall, it will be forwarded to the national level in Canada and after that it is hoped to the US trucking industry for consideration. However, says Smith, “If there is resistance to a country or continent-wide approach, we are prepared to urge the Ontario government to ensure that at least all the trucks that operate into, out of and within this province are speed limited.”

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