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QUEEN’S PARK, Ont. — New weights and dimensions laws aimed at bringing Ontario and Quebec one step closer to harmonization officially came into effect as of the first of this year.

According to officials in Ontario, the new regulations are also expected to reduce wear on Ontario’s infrastructure by more than $100 million per year. Elements of the agreement are also expected to serve as a model for further harmonization efforts with other jurisdictions.

“This agreement encourages carriers to invest in a new generation of vehicles that are more stable, safe and better for our highway infrastructure,” says Ontario Transport Minister David Turnbull. “These improvements reinforce our government’s commitment to enhance road safety, support competition in the trucking industry and protect Ontario’s roads and bridges.”

The deal standardized weights of tandem and tridem tractor-trailers, which commonly run between the two neighboring provinces. It also introduces a new generation of self-steer trailers that Ontario says will improve weight distribution among the axles — reducing road wear.

To further discourage the misuse of lift axles, new penalties ranging from $200 to $1,000 have been added to overweight fines. The new amounts will only apply in situations were improper use of a lift axle contributes to an overweight situation.

Additionally, the agreement allows for Ontario and Quebec to begin researching so-called “black box” on-board monitoring devices as part of a joint trail by 2003.

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