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.