Truck News


Inconsistency causes big time problems

Any truck driver worth their salt, at some point in his or her career, is likely to haul what is classified as an over-dimensional load.It is during one of these experiences one truly realizes the ext...

DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer
DAVE HOLLEMAN: Trucker/writer

Any truck driver worth their salt, at some point in his or her career, is likely to haul what is classified as an over-dimensional load.

It is during one of these experiences one truly realizes the extent of the bureaucratic red tape choking the trucking industry. Nowhere in ground transportation is there such a desperate need for reform, clarification and consistency than when moving an oversized load. The regulations governing oversize load movements are more numerous than potholes in a Quebec highway, and change significantly in every province.

While we’re on the topic of la Belle Province, when hauling these mega-loads in Quebec it is imperative your rotating beacons can be seen from 360 degrees, as a result, it is not common to see many over dimensional loads with beacons mounted on the trailer, too. Just make sure these lights are mounted a minimum of one meter off the ground. At least you can travel around the clock providing the extremities of your load are lit up.

However, once you reach the Ontario border you can only run at night along multi-lane highways, providing your oversize load is no wider than nine feet, 10 inches.

By the Manitoba border, be sure your permit is for overlength as well as overwidth. The Keystone province is the only jurisdiction in Canada readily enforcing the 53-foot “box length” rule; a largely ignored portion of the RTAC regulations. It certainly doesn’t sound very friendly.

And the regulations go on and on.

There are regs concerning movements on weekends, statutory holidays and days immediately after holidays. Once you get those figured out, tourist season starts and once again curfew laws change.

Literally ever province is different. You can’t move an over dimensional load of any size in Calgary during rush hour, however in Toronto there are no such rush hour curfews.

Too complex

To make matters worse, the complexity of the regulations seems to grow exponentially in relation to the size of your load. Every province has a different set of regulations concerning flags, signs, overheight, overweight, curfews, beacon use, lights and permits – to name a few. I assure you, the list goes on much further than this.

And if you want to run the U.S., the red tape can be absolutely mind-boggling. Many of these regs have absolutely nothing to do with safety and are insanely hard for law-enforcement to administer.

However, when you set to hauling an over-dimensional load as the driver you must be fully aware of all regulations that are relevant to a safe commute across the countryside.

Not doing so can be very costly. For example, if your beacons in Quebec are not visible from every angle – it is a whopping $600 fine plus a mark on your National Safety Code rating.

Truckers are often left scratching their heads by the side of the road – usually just after crossing a provincial boundary – asking the question, ‘Why does it have to be this way?’

Very simply, there is a total lack of federal leadership. This problem is quite obvious in the trucking industry at large and a rather blatant example is the haphazard regulations concerning these over-dimensional loads.

The provinces have been bickering amongst themselves for years about weights, dimensions and National Safety Code standards (to name just a few of their favorite arguments). The feds seem quite content to let the provinces battle as they sit in Ottawa, ignoring the fact any problem even exists.

What to do?

So how would one go about fixing the current system?

First off, Ottawa needs to demonstrate why it sits at the head of the bureaucratic dinner table. The feds need to take the lead and scrap altogether the out-of-date RTAC regulations. There are currently so many exceptions to RTAC at the provincial level that the regulations are basically useless.

Everything from the 244-inch wheelbase requirements and the 53-foot box length – consistency is a necessity.

Granted, if the federal government were to ever have the provinces all get in line with one another, there would have to be some serious reward. Like a significant and meaningful influx of cash for a national highway program.

Even if some provinces insist on balking over national consistency in the regulations – it must become a top priority.

Ideally, the federal government should commit billions to construction of a national highway network, and in doing so they need to attach conditions to the money. Such as uniformity from coast-to-coast concerning, weights, dimensions, nationalized safety ratings and methodology … and yes, even concerning over-dimensional loads.

As Chevron so poignantly points out, “With all due respect to the information highway, it is the asphalt highway that keeps this country running.” –

– Dave Holleman is an over-the-road owner/operator and can be reached at

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
All posts by

Print this page

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *