Canada’s trucking companies are calling for the country’s provincial governments to put the brakes on speeding trucks. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has announced its endorsement of a national policy calling upon all provincial governments to pass a law that speed limiters on all trucks that operate into, out of and within their provinces be activated — and that the maximum speed of trucks be set at no more than 105 km/h (65 mph).
A speed limiter is a built-in microchip that allows a truck engine’s top speed to be preset. Virtually all trucks built in the last decade come equipped with this technology. The law would apply not only to all Canadian heavy trucks, but also to U.S. trucks that come into Canada.
David Bradley, CTA chief executive officer, says that while truck drivers are, as a group, the country’s safest drivers and the least likely to be excessively speeding, “We want to eliminate speeding altogether. The environmental and safety benefits are simply too significant to ignore.”
The benefits of slowing down trucks, according to CTA include:
Safety and environmental groups that have announced their support of the proposal include the Canada Safety Council, Pollution Probe, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, SmartRisk, the Lung Association, the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, as well as Canadian insurance companies Markel and Old Republic.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance is a federation of the seven Canadian provincial trucking associations representing more than 4,000 motor carriers. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association and The Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada recently filed comments opposing mandated speed governors on trucks in response to an open comment deadline set by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
OOIDA – with more than 133,000 members in the United States and Canada – joined OBAC in opposing the proposed mandate because of the implication the proposal was headed for broad application. “They’re not just wanting this for Ontario, they’re wanting this for all of North America, including the U.S.,” says Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and chief executive officer. “The proposed speed limiters will have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of professional drivers, as well as the safety of all highway users.”
Joanne Ritchie, OBAC’s executive director, agrees. “When you have cars going faster than trucks, that in fact creates unsafe conditions,” Ritchie says. “When you get trucks in the left lane or right lane going slower, it creates all kinds of problems with cars weaving around them, trying to get on and off the interstates.”
According to OOIDA and OBAC, studies show light vehicle drivers are the primary speeders on Canada’s highways. While OOIDA and OBAC do not condone unsafe driving habits and agree that excessive speeding is a legitimate subject of concern, the groups agree with highway safety engineers who believe that highways are safest when all vehicles are traveling at the same speed regardless of the speed limit.
“Many of OTA’s member motor carriers have adopted speed-limiter technology as the method of limiting the speeds traveled by their fleets of trucks, a decision that has apparently made it more difficult to keep and recruit drivers,” Johnston says. “However, it is not the proper role of government to solve this business dilemma for them by forcing speed limiters down everyone else’s throat so as not to lose their competitive edge.”
In developing its policy, OTA says it consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including truck drivers, owner-operators, carriers, truck and engine manufacturers, insurance companies, enforcement and road safety agencies, government and the motoring public. OTA chairman Scott Smith, president of JD Smith & Sons of Toronto, oversaw a committee of 13 trucking company CEOs and senior executives charged with the responsibility of developing the OTA plan.
“While OTA’s commitment to safety is well-entrenched and great strides are being made to reduce the impact of trucks on the environment, making the activation of speed limiters mandatory will help us build an ever better trucking industry in Ontario,” Smith said last November.