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1 SUMMARY Review of Canadian Experience with the Regulation of Large Commercial Motor Vehicles Background Canada's ten provinces and three territories allowed significant no-uniform increases in allow- able gross weight in the early 1970s, and their diverse regulations quickly became barriers to internal trade. The provinces therefore established a committee to address the issue. The com- mittee identified roads and bridges that would need to be strengthened to allow for trucks at higher weights on all major highways. The necessary strengthening of the infrastructure was accomplished by the early 1980s. Some of the regulations in this early period led to vehicle config- urations with large and undesirable impacts on roads and bridges and/or poor dynamic perfor- mance. The committee undertook the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators/ Roads and Transportation Association of Canada (CCMTA/RTAC) Vehicle Weights and Dimensions Study, a major research study to identify vehicle configurations suitable for the desired weights that had both minimal impact on infrastructure and satisfactory dynamic per- formance. The research was completed in 1986 and produced a set of principles for configura- tion of vehicles. The committee used these principles to develop a national Memorandum of Understanding on Vehicle Weights and Dimensions ("the M.o.U."). All provinces agreed to allow the vehicle configurations defined in the M.o.U. on a set of highways defined by each province with weights and dimensions that would not infringe on the limits in the M.o.U. The provinces implemented the M.o.U. in 1989, though Ontario inhibited full implementation in the six eastern provinces by restricting two key dimensions until 1994. The M.o.U. has been amended five times since 1989 to add straight trucks, truck-trailer combinations, and an inter- city bus, and also to refine the specifications of vehicles. Provinces can and do allow non-M.o.U. configurations for domestic and regional needs, but the national configurations now form the backbone of the truck fleet in Canada. By 1999, over 95% of truck trips in the four western provinces were M.o.U. configurations, as were about 80% of trips in the six eastern provinces. This difference is partly because of the delay in implementation, and also because Ontario and Québec allow some tractor-semitrailer configurations with a higher gross weight than the M.o.U. The M.o.U. was achieved from a process of negotiation to consensus among the provinces, and was based on findings of the research project. The process has generally achieved the desired outcomes, and the few unexpected outcomes have been curtailed, particularly by identifying and responding to them quickly, and by refining the vehicle configuration specifica- tions. All provinces continue to use the process for assessing vehicles developed in the research project when they consider a new configuration for regulation or special permit. The United States may consider allowing larger and/or heavier trucks across the national road network. The process used in Canada to harmonize truck size and weight regulations in the 1980s
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2 can provide considerable insight to policy makers evaluating changes to truck regulations in the United States. The research reported here therefore had two objectives: · Review and summarize the most current information on the Canadian experience with changes in truck size and weight limits and · Evaluate the applicability of this experience to truck size and weight limits in the United States. Provincial Truck Size and Weight Limits All provinces have implemented the Canadian national M.o.U. Each either adopted the M.o.U. vehicle configurations into their regulations, or adapted their regulations so that they do not restrict a vehicle meeting the specification of the M.o.U., and these vehicles can operate within the province on a road network specified by the province. A province may allow less restrictive values for certain limits set in the M.o.U., and some do, generally higher for a weight limit, shorter for a minimum dimension, longer for a maximum dimension, or may not regulate a particular limit at all. A province may allow for other configurations not covered by the M.o.U., either as new vehicles, or as existing vehicles grandfathered from a previous set of regulations, by regulation, or by special permit, and they do. The vehicles may also be allowed to operate on other roads at lower weights, where roads, pavement, or bridges may require the lesser weight. The M.o.U. defines configurations for · Tractor-semitrailers, from 3 to 6 axles; · A-train doubles, from 5 to 8 axles; · B-train doubles, from 5 to 8 axles; · C-train doubles, from 5 to 8 axles; · A straight truck, with 2 or 3 axles; · A truck-pony trailer, from 3 to 6 axles; · A truck-full trailer, from 4 to 7 axles; and · An intercity bus, with 2 or 3 axles. A straight truck may be 12.5-m (41-ft) long, a tractor-semitrailer or truck-trailer combination may be 23-m (75-ft 6-in.) long, an A-, B- or C-train double may be 25-m (82-ft) long, and an intercity bus may be 14.0-m (46-ft) long. A semitrailer may be 16.20-m (53-ft) long, and a pony trailer or full trailer may be 12.50-m (41-ft) long. The M.o.U. includes a number of internal dimensions for each configuration that are necessary for satisfactory dynamic performance, and to ensure proper bridge loading. The steer axle of a tractor is allowed 5,500 kg (12,125 lb), the steer axle of a straight truck is allowed 7,250 kg (15,983 lb), a tandem axle is allowed 17,000 kg (37,478 lb), and a tridem axle is allowed 21,000 to 24,000 kg (46,296 to 52,910 lb) depending on the spread, from 2.4 to 3.7 m (94 to 146 in.). The six eastern provinces allow 18,000 kg (39,682 lb) on a tandem axle, and 26,000 kg (57,320 lb) for a tridem axle with a spread from 3.6 to 3.7 m (142 to 146 in.). The allowable gross weight of a vehicle is the sum of its allowable axle loads, though the gross weight of some configurations is capped to ensure adequate dynamic perfor- mance. Dimensions of M.o.U. configurations are consistent in all provinces. Axle and gross weights are uniform in the four western provinces, and also uniform, but higher, in the six east- ern provinces for vehicles outside of the M.o.U. Coordination of Truck Size and Weight Regulations The Canadian federal government has no truck size and weight regulations. Each province sets its own truck size and weight regulations, and they apply to all roads within the province, except where road or bridge condition may require a restriction.
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3 The Task Force on Vehicle Weights and Dimensions Policy--national committee composed of officials from the federal, provincial, and territorial transportation departments, reports to the Council of Deputy Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety, and has been assigned responsibility for · Pursuing greater national and/or regional uniformity of policies, regulations, and enforcement practices for heavy vehicle weight and dimension limits within Canada and · Representing Canada in regulatory harmonization discussions being carried out under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Task Force usually meets once a year in an open forum with stakeholders. Recommendations from the Task Force go forward to the Council of Ministers, and, if approved, each minister undertakes the implementation of the changes necessary in their province. Economic Impacts of the M.o.U. on Canada A study conducted 5 years after implementation of the M.o.U. estimated annual net benefits of about $142 million for 1992, $180 million for 1997, and $222 million for 2002. These estimates were in 1992 Canadian dollars for operations on the Canadian National Highway System, and may have been double that if operations on other highways were also considered. The benefits were almost entirely in transportation costs, as most of the road and bridge improvements nec- essary to accommodate the higher weights of the M.o.U. were completed between 1975 and 1985. In commenting on an earlier study, the railways suggested they would experience substantial annual losses from the M.o.U. In fact, they have done very well, acquiring U.S. lines, abandoning unprofitable branch lines in Canada, sharing track, and developing intermodal service into the single fastest growing transportation sector. Interestingly, the railways were actually the single largest early purchasers of new M.o.U. configurations, buying one standard design of container chassis for all their terminals across the country. Impacts on the Truck Fleet According to a national truck survey in 1999, over 95% of all truck trips in the four western provinces are taken by trucks of M.o.U. configuration, with about 80% in the six eastern provinces. The primary difference between the two exists because Québec allows 4-axle tractor-semitrailers, and Ontario allows 4-, 5- and 6-axle tractor-semitrailers that are often used instead of an 8-axle B-train. The proportion of M.o.U. configurations in the six eastern provinces has increased somewhat, as the provinces have moved to phase out non-M.o.U. configurations with liftable axles. From the 1999 survey, about 91% of cross-border trips were taken by M.o.U. configura- tions, even though two-thirds of these trips were to, from, or through Ontario. Cost Recovery Cost recovery was not an issue for the provinces through this process. All government revenue from all sources go into general revenue, where they are disbursed to the departments in accor- dance with the provincial finance minister's budget. Under general revenue, there is no relation- ship between, for example, fuel taxes and license fees, and expenditures on highway transportation. U.S. Truck Size and Weight Regulation Truck size and weight limits were the sole jurisdiction of the states until the FederalAid Highway Act of 1956 established truck size and weight limits for the Interstate system, but states with weight limits higher than the new federal limits were allowed to retain those limits under
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4 grandfather authority. Federal weight limits were increased in 1974 to help offset a large increase in fuel prices, but not all states adopted the higher limits. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 required all states to allow twin trailers and prevented all states from restrict- ing weights and dimensions of certain configurations more than existing specified values. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 limited the increased use of double trailer combinations with a gross weight greater than 36,287 kg (80,000 lb). There have been no broad changes since 1991, though a number of states have continued to exercise their rights by allowing larger vehicles on state roads. A number of proposals have been advanced since 1991, with many interesting approaches, but there has been no movement. Bridge capacity severely restricts options, and it has been shown repeatedly that it would be very expensive to provide the U.S. bridge system with the capability to accept vehicles at Canadian M.o.U. on a national basis. Application of Canadian Experience to the United States--Conclusions Truck size and weight regulation is abstruse, complex, highly technical, and has multiple close linkages with roadway, pavement, and bridge design; construction, maintenance and manage- ment; road safety, road capacity, and congestion; energy, emissions, rail transportation, and others. The public at large does not view trucks favorably, and especially does not like the concept of a larger or heavier truck. Making rational changes to truck size and weight in the United States is both technically and politically challenging. The essential lessons learned from the Canadian size and weight experience are as follows: 1. There was national agreement among stakeholders that Canadian size and weight regulation was inconsistent and outdated, which contributed to cross-country transport inefficiency. Recognition of this problem provided a clear focus for action. 2. A formal body including federal and provincial government representation was established to develop and oversee the process of rationalizing size and weight policy based on scientific analysis. The basis for technical input was the "Vehicle Weights and Dimensions Study" that was specifically conducted to provide scientific input. 3. The size and weight study provided an understanding of vehicle infrastructure interaction and produced a set of vehicle performance metrics that were used to specify vehicle configura- tions that had desirable vehicle dynamic characteristics and could operate within the load capability and geometric constraints of the road network. 4. The study also validated the tridem axle group, which is the cornerstone upon which many of the higher productivity vehicles are built. 5. Canadian policy is structured through weight allowance limits to provide an incentive for the development and use of vehicles with favorable dynamic characteristics. 6. A formal body was established to oversee the implementation of harmonized size and weight policy among the provinces and it continues to monitor and respond to needs as required. 7. Size and weight regulation needs to be thorough and comprehensive so that the desired out- comes are achieved and undesirable outcomes are prevented. The U.S. federal government has not made significant change to its truck size and weight reg- ulations since 1991, when it moved to limit the opportunity of states to make changes. Never- theless, since then, states have continued to make changes that allow larger and/or heavier trucks on roads that are not part of the national network, and these changes have increased the diver- sity of regulations across the nation. This has created a condition not unlike what existed in Canada before it began its size and weight harmonization effort. Furthermore, having frozen the
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5 federal size and weight policy for the past 19 years, as other countries have progressed and made refinements to policy, the United States can benefit from the experience of these other jurisdic- tions by developing instruments that have a proven record of success. In the United States, federal, state, local, toll road, and maybe other agencies have authority to set, monitor, and ensure compliance to truck size and weight limits. It would seem practical to identify one or more ranges of gross weight above 36,287 kg (80,000 lb), define new configurations to address each gross weight range, and require these vehicles be allowed on national network roads that are suitable for them. Canada has three ranges of allowable gross weight higher than 36,287 kg (80,000 lb), essen- tially for trucks with 6, 7 and 8 axles. If a U.S. jurisdiction were to consider a higher allowable gross weight, it would be appropriate to define weight ranges and vehicle configurations for each. This approach could potentially reduce the number of trucks by maybe 10% to 15%, by judi- cious definition of weight ranges and suitable vehicle configurations. U.S. specifications are highly influenced by the Federal Bridge Formula, which tends to define the number of axles in a vehicle, the allowable weights, and overall length. There is the potential for an approach based on the bridge formula to result in undesirable outcomes for vehicles with 6 or more axles. Unless otherwise prohibited it is likely that lift axles would flourish which would be threatening to the infrastructure. The approach in Canada was to provide a complete speci- fication for the vehicle, including internal dimensions critical to both infrastructure and vehicle dynamic performance. When truck size and weight regulations are changed, it is not uncommon for industry to find a loophole that provides an unintended, and possibly undesirable, outcome. The vehicle configurations that arise from the change should be monitored carefully, and if unintended vehicles with undesirable infrastructure impacts or dynamic performance are appearing, a mechanism should be available to close the loophole quickly to prevent these vehicles becom- ing common. Dimensional compatibility is more important than the same allowable weights. Jurisdictions should respect the dimensions agreed upon for the specified vehicle, so that it can travel freely among the jurisdictions that have adopted it. If jurisdictions agree to accept a configuration, they may wish to allow less restrictive dimensions than the specification, but they should not have any more restrictive dimensions. In addition, if the jurisdictions have different allowable axle group weights, or allowable gross weight, the configuration should be able to be loaded to its allowable gross weight in each jurisdiction within the allowable axle loads and internal dimension limits. Canada's process developed a performance-based method to assess the dynamic performance of vehicles, which was used as the basis for the national configurations, and has been used sub- sequently by all provinces when considering new configurations, either for regulation or for spe- cial permits. This is applied rigorously by all provinces, and it is not uncommon that proposed new configurations are rejected due to deficiencies in their dynamic performance. On the other side, if a new configuration can be shown to have better, or at least not worse, dynamic perfor- mance than existing vehicles it might replace, this provides a strong argument against those who oppose higher weights "on principle." Grandfather rights and state permit programs allow for a variety of vehicles, some with evi- dently undesirable effects on infrastructure, dynamic performance, or both. If the federal government, or a state or region, would define configurations with greater allowable gross weight and more range, the diverse configurations operating under grandfather rights and permit programs would simply disappear. Any carrier wanting to continue to operate vehi- cles under the old grandfather right or permit program could continue to do so, but most of these local-use vehicles would quickly be replaced by vehicles with greater range that would be more efficient.
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6 The United States, Canada, and Mexico are equal partners in NAFTA. The NAFTA treaty identified that truck size and weight regulations were potentially a barrier to trade, so it provided a mechanism for the three partners to harmonize their truck size and weight regulations. The United States has essentially not made any changes to its size and weight regulations since NAFTA became effective, while Canada and Mexico have both continued to develop their own truck size and weight regulations, which, coincidentally, have many similarities and considerable domestic benefit. Harmonization with the NAFTA partners to the extent possible with the intent of achiev- ing more uniform transportation efficiency within North America could present a compelling argument for change.