Speed limiters backed by Ontario’s top cop; OTA wants action

TORONTO — The Ontario Trucking Association can include another high-profile ally in support of its two-year effort to have all trucks equipped with mandatory speed limiters.

OTA President David Bradley welcomed recent comments by Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino that “speeding is a serious road safety issue and that trucks should be forced to limit their speed to 105 km/h.”

“We’re obviously very happy that the Commissioner has publicly indicated (his) support for a hard cap on truck speeds,” Bradley said in a press release. “After a year and half of debate, discussion and study, the time has come for the government to act.

“I can’t understand why they are reluctant to bring in something this positive that has so much support. The safety and environmental benefits are just too significant for this government to continue to ignore this issue and I hope that Commissioner Fantino’s comments will finally spur them to action.”

The OTA, many of whose members already voluntarily cap truck speed between 90 and 100 km/h, has made mandatory speed limiters for all trucks in the province one of its top three priorities.

Even though truckers are the least likely to speed, there
are many other reasons for speed limiters, OTA says

Under the umbrella of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the plan has the full support of each provincial trucking association across Canada. It’s also backed by legislators in Quebec and Ontario, where Bill 115 — a Highway Traffic Act amendment introduced by Ontario Conservative MPP Laurie Scott — is under review.

The OTA idea has also been relayed south of the border, where the American Trucking Associations is petitioning the Department of Transport to cap speeds at 68 mph.

In addition to the OPP, the OTA has already recruited support from several groups like Pollution Probe, CAA Ontario, the Canada Safety Council, the Ontario Safety League, and several insurance companies.

The plan also has many detractors, however. Owner-operators have been some of the more vocal critics. With published traffic safety studies in hand, the Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada and its U.S. counterpart argue that a large gap in speed differential between cars and trucks causes more accidents.

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, which represents non for-hire fleets, is also strongly opposed to a blanket rule. President Bruce Richards has in the past pointed out that, statistically, truck speeding is far from being a problem on highways. In fact, trucks are the slowest vehicles on the road, he says.

If the government is determined to enact the rule, Richards suggests mandatory limiters should be restricted only to chronic offenders.

But as Today’s Trucking has reported over the last year, speed isn’t the only argument OTA has advanced to justify speed limiters. The devices are also being proposed in the name of the environment.

Bradley characterized the proposal “as perhaps the single most significant measure any industry has put on the table to conserve fuel and help the country meet its commitments under the Kyoto Accord.”

“Even though truck drivers are the least likely of all drivers to be operating at excessive speed,” he said, “there are good environmental, safety and economic reasons for making the activation of speed limiters mandatory.”

— For much more on speed limiters in both Canada and the U.S., be sure to use the keyword search on TodaysTrucking.com.

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