Ontario defers enforcement of new SPIF axle controls

by By John G. Smith

Ontario’s SPIF configurations make use of self-steering lift axles. (Wheel Monitor photo)

OTTAWA, Ont. – The Ontario Ministry of Transportation will defer the enforcement of new rules that govern the emergency controls for self-steering lift axles in what’s known as a SPIF configuration.

Regulatory changes introduced last July will allow an in-cab switch to lift self-steering axles in emergency situations, when working with Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly (SPIF) trucks or tractors. But the vehicle option requires an independent switch that also activates the four-way flashers at the same time.

The news came today through a letter to the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA).

“Original Equipment Manufacturers [OEMs] have only recently expressed that meeting the provisions of the regulatory conditions is possible, but would require about one year to plan, engineer and implement a proper technical solution,” writes Ian Freeman, director of the ministry’s carrier safety and enforcement branch.

“In response to the manufacturers’ difficulties, the ministry will defer enforcement of the regulations governing the in-cab emergency override controls until Nov. 1, 2020.  This will give the time required for manufacturers to produce and pilot beta technology to a more workable solution that meets the needs of both road safety standards and the regulatory regime.”

The switch is meant to offer drivers extra traction when it’s needed at relatively low speeds.

The axle will need to lift as soon as the switch is activated, and the override must be limited to speeds of less than 60 km/h. And the controls must be limited to the forward self-steering axle on a semi-trailer, while in the case of a truck they can control a self-steering axle or forced-steer auxiliary pusher axle. The self-steering axle must fully deploy as soon as a truck stops, when tractor power is turned off, or within three minutes of the switch itself being activated.

“The switch configuration is a major issue because of the digital nature of dashes now. It’s not just taking a wire and jumping the wires,” said Jeremy Harrower, manager of technical programs for the CTEA, during a recent presentation on the topic. The same challenge applies when it comes to the controls for liftable auxiliary axles in heavy applications.

The association has been working with the Society of Automotive Engineers to establish a solution.

The current cab control allowance as described in SPIF Regulation 413/05 Section 5(2)(b) will be allowed until Nov. 1, 2020, when the new emergency control identified in Section 5(2)(c) will be enforced, says Don Moore, a CTEA spokesman.


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  • Perfect example of the government mandating stuff they know ZERO about. I’m on my second SPIF straight truck and they DO NOT STEER in winter.
    Curves on the highway yes, but 90* corners at intersections in the city from a dead stop, no way.
    And when you are about to sideswipe a lineup of cars at an intersection do you really have time to cycle the 4-way flashers on 3 or 4 seconds, off then back on??? LOL
    Pure stupidity. Not to mention the these systems are not always reliable either.
    They would have better off to just get the Ministry to do their job and enforce axle weight fines when they catch you not using your lift axle.

    Or at least keep the self-equalizing feature of SPIF and the steering axle, but leave the up and down control to the DRIVER.

    I think we should take all these government brainwaves and put them behind the wheel of these trucks and send them up a northern Ontario two lane highway with curves and 12% grades in a white-out snow storm on their now poorly maintained highways and see how they like these new systems they just dreamed up, that don’t work.

  • Don’t worry…there are only 100 MTO Officers left and they are busy stopping OTA members just to collect stats.

  • Common sense has always been lacking within the confines of good government. Safety on our highways and roadways are tantamount to the transportation iindustry. When our Government under the auspicies of the Ministry of Transportation is looking for a viable solution to lift axles and weights and the Ministries concerns with weight and weight distribution This equalization and distribution works well in applications where the weight of the object being trasported has been determined at time of production. This weight distribution does not wwork well within the construction industry especially with regards to excavation sites and material handling. All commercial vehicles which are subjected to heavy loading applications should have scales on board the vehicles so drivers can easily determine whether theier vehicle is subject to an overload situation. The technology exists is cheap and should be mandated. Forget about Spiff axles the Ministry Should reduce allowable weights on all commercial vehicles. the Ministry should refer to allowable weights for commercial vehicle guidelines that existed in the 1960″s. Instead the ministry maximized the vehicle carrying Weights creating problems within the transportation Industry. If the Ministry of Transportation is concerned with road safety and preservation of roads and bridges which are impacted by heavy load conditions the solution does not exist with the design of a Spiff Axle. but rather a common sense solution reduce the weights on these monster trucks that are over powered with engines in excess of 400 to over 500 horsepower jokeyed in many instances by inexperienced unprofessional drivers. By reducing the weight capacity the transportation Industry would be better served. The roads would most definetely be safer and the cost of maintaining roads and bridges subjected to heavy loading conditions would be reduced immensely providing a longer life span for both our roadways and briges. Common sense is all thats required the easy fix is reduce the allowable carrying capacity on commercial vehicles subjected to heavy loading conditions.

  • Another ex of absolute stupidity a desk jockey telling me how to drive a truck and what’s safe,they should spend a couple weeks with me so they can see it’s not worth the effort they should do their job and I’ll do mine. They can go directly to hell.

  • I concur shawn …
    Spif axles respond way differently on straight trucks then they do on trailers ….