Our Two Cents

OBAC Files Comments with MTO on Speed-Limiters

OBAC has released its anticipated 22-page report against mandatory speed limiters – or engine governors – in response to an information-gathering process launched in December 2005 by Ontario's Ministry of Transportation (MTO). A copy of OBAC's submission is attached. 
Both OBAC and the U.S.-based OOIDA – which has more than 130,000 members in the U.S. and Canada – are against the Ontario Trucking Association proposal, which petitioned the government to require the speed of trucks to be limited to 105 kilometers per hour, or 65 mph. OTA represents many of Canada's large motor carriers, a number of which already voluntarily use engine governors.
Joanne Ritchie, OBAC's executive director, said the proposal underestimates the role of the driver in the equation. "Since the driver has the greatest impact on fuel efficiency, maintenance, and safety, more thorough driver training relating to proper driving speeds should have a positive effect on the speeds actually driven," Ritchie said in the report. "Technology cannot take the place of a well-trained driver, nor should it take away control of the vehicle from a well-trained driver."
OBAC contends there are other effective speed management options available to carriers, such as paying bonuses or increasing per mile pay for compliant driving. Reduced fuel consumption is also achievable without government regulation, says Ritchie. "OBAC is a strong advocate of fuel conservation as a wise business choice. We support a number of initiatives that stress speed management and operational discipline as a means of conserving fuel, saving money, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
An annual report by Transport Canada estimated 8.38 million trucks crossed the border between Ontario and the U.S. in 2004. OBAC's report states that mandatory speed limiters would affect commerce because 22 U.S. states and several Canadian provinces have speed limits higher than 65 mph/105 km/h .
Ritchie said by mandating speed limiters on trucks, Ontario would be "usurping the authority of those other jurisdictions to determine the maximum speed limit for vehicles traveling on their highways."
She said enforcement of engine governors would be a waste of resources. She suggests MTO instead direct enforcement toward non-compliant drivers of both trucks and cars, as well as step up public education on how to share the road with trucks, and retest all drivers with questionable driving records.
MTO could also consider allowing trucks to use newly opened High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in the Greater Toronto Area to reduce congestion and maximize engine efficiency, as well as encourage governments to provide tax incentives for truckers to buy 2007 diesel engines to further reduce emissions.
But the biggest contention OBAC has with the OTA's proposal is safety.
"Forcing heavy-duty trucks to drive slower than the flow of traffic, while other vehicles on the road continue to speed, sometimes excessively, will lead to frequent lane changes, passing, and weaving maneuvers, as well as tailgating by faster-moving vehicles," Ritchie wrote. “It is well established that the risk of crashes increases significantly as speed differentials increase, in both the negative and positive direction. Indeed, safety is best served if all vehicles in the traffic stream travel at about the same speed.” 
According to ministry officials, a briefing is being prepared for Transportation Minister Harindar Takhar, likely to happen in the next few weeks. While MTO is not actively seeking further input, it will continue to register any comments it receives. Anyone interested in providing direct input can do so through MTO Senior Policy Advisor Dwain Smith by telephone at 905-704-2624 or e-mail at dwain.smith@mto.gov.on.ca

As well, anyone who wishes to let the government know how they feel about mandatory speed limiters can still contact their elected officials.

Click to view or download a copy of OBAC's comments