Teamsters Canada who represents thousands of truck drivers across Canada say that the new speed limiter legislation (Bill 41) which became law in Ontario on January 1st 2009 will not prevent accidents as the government suggests, but will only burden drivers with additional costly adjustments to their trucks, expenses that an industry already reeling from recessionary layoffs and lack of work cannot afford.
The Ontario regulation, similar to one passed in neighbouring Quebec, requires all heavy trucks manufactured since 1996 and weighing more than 26,000 pounds be electronically speed-limited at a maximum of 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph.
Owner-operators in Canada and the U.S. say that the law limits competition and is a potential violation of provincial and cross-border trade laws. A speed limiter which is a governor module already installed in trucks
needs to be set electronically. Drivers from outside the Province and the U.S. must have the regulator set at a dealership or garage, at a cost of between $75 and $150 per occasion. They would have to make this adjustment both when entering and leaving the Province. Most states in the U.S. have speed limits
of 70-75 mph. If caught without regulators, drivers will be fined $250 in Ontario and $350 in Quebec.
Robert (Bud) McAulay, National Freight and Tank Haul Director for Teamsters Canada and a former transport driver himself for over 25 years stated that this new law is all about saving fuel costs for trucking
companies, not safety. “I applaud the efforts made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he says, “but other considerations need to be made on environmental issues that don’t affect highway safety for motorists. How do you expect to have a safe highway when the Ministry of Transportation is allowing two different speed limits?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the result of trucks being regulated at 105 kph and cars traveling at 120 kph and higher will create; a lot of angry tailgating motorists waiting for their chance to pass, which will result in aggressive driving not to mention the increase in lane changes. With three lanes of traffic all heading in the same direction and trucks occupying the right two lanes, if a truck wishes to overtake a slower vehicle, it will cause motorists to all head for the third lane, which will result in aggressive lane changes.
And if a tractor trailer is faced with a critical situation and needs to straighten the rig out to prevent a jack-knife by accelerating, it will be very difficult to do this safely at a maximum speed of 105 kph,” he stated. Jim Bradley, Ontario Minister of Transportation, had meetings with the Ontario Trucking Association but chose not to hear what the truckers, represented by Teamsters Canada, had to say on this very important issue. McAulay also commented that President Obama, during his visit to Canada last week, emphasized the importance of opening up the borders to allow a better flow of truck traffic between the world’s two largest trading partners. “Bill 41 is clearly a detriment by our Provincial government towards the out-of-Province driver,” he said.
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is
affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
© 2009, Truck Drivers News Blog. All rights reserved.