Eastern provinces harmonize LCV programs

TORONTO, ON – Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have now harmonized the requirements for Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs), which use a single tractor to pull a pair of 53-foot trailers.

Each province still determines the road networks where the equipment is allowed to operate. Canada’s four western provinces also operate under a separate Memorandum of Understanding.

Long Combination Vehicles reduce fuel consumption and Greenhouse Gas emissions by about one-third, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. They also enhance productivity for fleets which tend to cube out before reaching maximum Gross Vehicle Weights.

According to the Canada Safety Council, the LCVs are involved in at least 40% fewer collisions than typical tractor-trailers, too.

Operators and equipment alike face strict rules under both operating regimes.

Carriers that want to use the equipment in Eastern Canada need at least five years of operating experience, require a satisfactory safety rating, and must carry a minimum of $5 million liability insurance. Drivers, meanwhile, need a minimum of five years’ experience with tractor-semitrailers, and have to complete and approved Long Combination Vehicles Training Course. They cannot have Criminal Code convictions in the prior 36 months, more than two moving violations in the prior 12 months, or more than three moving violations in the prior 36 months. The harmonized requirements also recognize the T endorsements available on Quebec licences to drive vehicles more than 25 meters long.

Out west, participating drivers need a minimum of 24 months or 150,000 kilometers of experience with articulated vehicles, and need to pass a Professional Driver Improvement Course within the past 48 months. Limits on Criminal Code convictions and moving violations, as well as the need to pass an LCV course, are the same under both MOUs.

Maximum speeds under the harmonized eastern rules are set at 90 kilometers per hour – 10 kilometers an hour less than in Western Canada. And the vehicles can’t be operated when visibility is less than 500 meters.

The western rules also outline operating procedures in adverse weather. On a snow-covered highway or icy lanes, for example, LCVs governed under those rules can’t pass another vehicle unless it is moving less than 70 kilometers per hour.

Long Combination Vehicles are identified with yellow and black signs at the rear of the second semitrailer. Other equipment requirements under the newly harmonized eastern rules include:

  • Speed recording devices which retain data for at least 90 days.
  • Electronic Stability Controls. The lead semitrailer must not have a functioning independent Roll Stability System unless it can also automatically apply the brakes on the dolly and second semitrailer.
  • Engines offering at least 460 horsepower and 1,650 lb-ft of torque.
  • Air compressors that can deliver 465 liters per minute, and air dryers that can keep moisture from accumulating in semitrailer brakes.
  • A no-slack, snubber-type pintle hook with a secondary locking device on the lead semitrailers in A-train combinations.
  • Semitrailers retrofitted for towing must have brake timing certified as meeting Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 121.
  • Anti-sail mudflaps at least as wide as the tire treads, within 350 millimeters of the ground when the vehicle is empty. They must also have anti-sail brackets or plates, or be rigidly designed to keep them from floating rearward at highway speeds.
  • Converter dollies with functioning tail, brake and turn signal lights, as well as two red reflectors.
  • Converter dolly brakes must include an air supply line pressure protection valve, and a control line pilot (speed-up) valve.

These differ from Western rules in many ways. From Manitoba to British Columbia, for example, engines must offer at least one horsepower for every 160 kilograms. Compressors have less than two minutes to raise air pressure from 50 to 90 psi when an engine is idling at 1,250 rpm and the tractor is uncoupled; less than four minutes when the trailers are hooked up and the air system is energized. Tractors in Western Canada must also come with at least two 2,500 cubic-inch air reservoirs.

Since Ontario introduced its program in August 2009, participating carriers have completed more than 220,000 trips covering 70 million kilometers.

 “In 2009, when Ontario introduced the LCV Program, it was initially developed to harmonize with eastern provinces,” adds Ontario Ministry of Transportation spokesman Bob Nichols. “This agreement is the effort to formally harmonize LCV operations, with consensus across all four provinces.”

“The benefits for Ontario are clear. This agreement will help our economy, reduce congestion and fuel consumption, and lower GHG emissions- all while improving road safety. We are removing barriers so that goods can be transported more easily and safely between all of our provinces,” said Ontario Transport Minister Steven Del Duca.

“The benefits of this tightly controlled program have been increased by this announcement encouraging trucking fleets in all four jurisdictions to maintain the highest standards of safety and encouraging more investment in Ontario by sectors of the economy who utilize this configuration,” added Stephen Laskowski, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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