Canadian Court says Speed Limiters on Trucks Insafe
Ontario courts have ruled in favor of truckers who are claiming that speed limiters for their trucks are dangerous and unjust. Truckers have been against these devices for many years but only recently have lawmakers taken their side in the argument. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also feels that these devices do more harm than good. Judge Brett Kelly ruled that laws instituting the installation of speed limiters for trucks create a greater danger for both truckers and other drivers sharing the road.
This decision was made during a court case in which Gene Michaud, an owner-operator and member of OOIDA from Ontario, filed a challenge based on the laws set by the province regarding speed limiters. The existing law stated that any heavy truck manufactured in 1995 or later must be fitted with a limiting device that prevented the vehicle from traveling more than 65 miles per hour. The courts ruled in favor of his constitutional challenge. The law violates the principles of fundamental justice mandated by the Canadian constitution because it fails to protect the public or the trucks affected by the laws. It serves no purpose and only makes it more challenging for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles.
The driver received support from the OOIDA because the association knew that the ruling could create a new precedent in Canada, which could have a significant effect on lawmakers in the United States as well. Many states have been pushing legislators to institute similar rules regarding mandatory use of speed limiters. These devices are expensive and hard for independent owner-operators or small fleets to afford. This interferes with their competitiveness against large fleets that can easily afford the limiters.
The argument presented by the driver and his legal team demonstrated that he was giving up his right to security, a concept protected by Canadian law. The limiter kept truck speeds below the natural flow of traffic in many of the areas he traveled through on a regular basis. This made navigation more difficult and limited his ability to maneuver around faster moving and smaller vehicles. His testimony included situations that he described as unsafe and uncomfortable due to his inability to speed up to match the traffic around him.
The OOIDA also presented a variety of research that demonstrated the dangers of speed limiters. Multiple studies of real traffic patterns and driving situations with heavy trucks clearly show that it is safer for vehicles to match the speeds of the traffic around them. Forcing a truck to remain slower than the rest of traffic increases the chance of collisions. Speed limiters have the potential to cause far more accidents on the road than they could prevent.
The judge noted in his ruling the importance of a driver having full control over the vehicle to operate it safely. He stated that allowing a driver to choose his speed was more important than preventing some drivers from traveling over the speed limits. The law was found to fail to offer protection as designed, and Judge Kelly ruled that the driver was put in dangerous situations due to the limiter installed on his vehicle. The OOIDA can now use the ruling to help convince legislators in the province to remove the requirement.