Less Fuel, More Goods: Trucking in Harmony

Truckers are travelling Western Canada with greater ease now that permit conditions for long combination vehicles are the same in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The ministry’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement (CVSE) branch recently helped tailor a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with our neighbours to the east.

The harmonization measures apply to turnpike double long combination vehicles (LCV), which are used to carry large loads of light goods – imagine a whole lot of toilet paper, for example. Turnpike double LCVs consist of a tractor pulling two trailers of equal length. The image below shows the difference between it and a Rocky Mountain Double.

BC Trucking Over sized load Turnpike Rocky Mountain

“The MOU on Turnpike Double operating conditions proves that when there’s the will, there is a way to harmonize operating conditions across the western provinces,” says B.C. Trucking Association President & Chief Executive Officer Louise Yako.

“This joint effort lays the groundwork for other initiatives that will continue to standardize and simplify the regulatory environment for the trucking industry.”

So, why does it matter to have similar permit conditions across Western Canada?

Consistent permit conditions mean commercial trucking companies and drivers can cross provincial boundaries with greater ease; for example, there’s no need to worry about changing an LCV based on cross provincial routes.

“The drivers find it much easier to follow one set of rules, and if those rules do not change as they cross a provincial boundary, there is less chance of mistake,” says Canadian Freightways Director of Safety & Compliance Don Chapman.

One particularly important new condition is the LCV’s overall allowable length. Prior to harmonization, the maximum length of an LCV’s tractor and two trailers differed in B.C. (41 metres) and Alberta (40 metres). That meant freight capacities were inconsistent for cross border truckers. Now that all LCVs are allowed to reach 41 metres, there’s greater flexibility for trucking companies and self-employed commercial drivers to configure their vehicles and increase their productivity.

BC Trucking Over sized load Turnpike Rocky Mountain

Harmonization measures also aid in cost savings because commercial trucking companies can start to phase out, or at least stop purchasing, certain trailers.

Another Benefit:
Aside from trailer lengths, new common axle weight standards are also a big plus.

“Operationally, this is easier for our team to follow,” says Chapman. “They know that if the load is axle weight legal at origin, it will not have to change by crossing a provincial boundary.”

Having LCVs on B.C. highways is good for consumers and manufacturers, too. The bigger trucks allow retailers and manufacturers to bring large, light-weight goods to market at a lower cost. LCVs also carry more goods with less fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping goods by about a third.

Even though LCVs are bigger than standard trucks, it doesn’t mean they are unsafe. In fact, a 2005 Alberta study found that LCVs had 60 per cent fewer incidents than conventional tractor-trailers.

Next time you see an LCV on the highway, imagine what it’s carrying – could be paper towel, light bulbs, potato chips… Can you think of any other bulky, light-weight goods travelling across B.C.?

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