At 11 a.m. today, more than two hundred irate truck drivers will besiege Queen’s Park, demanding their right to push the pedal to the metal when necessary. Various groups are up in arms over Bill 41, a piece of legislation passed in Ontario last June that requires large rigs to carry engine microchips restricting their maximum speed to 105 km/h.
The McGuinty government says the law will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep roads safe, but protest organizer Scott Mooney wrangles with the latter claim. The freedom to step on the gas, he argues, is vital to safely operating an eighteen-wheeler.
“In an emergency situation, such as a jackknife, the only tool a driver has to regain control is the accelerator,” says Mooney, a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). “With the speed limiter in place, the driver can not accelerate his truck past the limiter to pull out of the jackknife situation.”
Furthermore, Mooney argues that the speed limiters—made mandatory on January 1—will disrupt the flow of traffic in the province, where other automobiles on the 400-series highways are permitted to travel as fast as 120 km/h. This spells sludgier slowdowns and redder road rage for Ontarian commuters.
Of course, Mooney’s concerns are also monetarily tinged; many Ontario-based firms are worried that American companies will now have no truck with them, opting instead for carriers in other areas with higher posted speed limits or no limiter regulations. “When the receiver wants their goods as cheap as possible and as quick as possible, the out-of-province trucker has the advantage,” he says.
While the OOIA, Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada (OBAC), and Teamsters Union have expressed their common anxieties in letters written to Premier McGuinty and Transportation Minister Jim Bradley, Mooney says their ooga horns have fallen upon deaf ears, without a single reply as of yet.
Shortly after the majority of this morning’s commuter traffic dissipates, two truck convoys will make conga lines toward the Ontario legislature. The first will depart from Cambridge, travel along the 401 to the 427 and roll into downtown Toronto via the Gardiner Expressway. The other will start in Bowmanville, travel along the 401 to the DVP, exit at Richmond Street and converge with the rest outside the Main Legislative Building at Queen’s Park.