Smart Lift Axles on Semi-Trailers in Ontario – Next Steps and Work Plan

Over the last several years OTA has expressed an interest in working with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) on efforts to introduce Smart Lift Axle (SLA) technology for semi-trailers.

Late last week, MTO confirmed their intention to start more formal discussions with OTA to move the issue forward and determine the most effective way to address this new technology in legislation and regulation. Although SLA technology has been offered in the North American Market for over a decade, the technology does not comply with the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) SPIF regulations.

OTA is pleased with MTO’s direction, adding it fits well with the larger-scale work conducted nationally on the GHG file and with weights and dimensions. It also continues the efforts already completed by MTO and OTA for extended tractors on b-trains, boat tails, wide single tires and other GHG reduction efforts within MTO’s heavy truck programs.

option_3Introducing new smart lift axle technology while the province is in the midst of its 30 year transition to SPIF (safe, productive and infrastructure friendly) vehicles will take some planning, research, and regulatory development, with the onus on the trucking industry to drive the process. However, OTA is confident it’s very achievable if approached in a systematic and practical fashion following MTO’s established processes.

To kick things off, OTA will be assisting the ministry with gathering information on the technical, operational, economic and environmental aspects of technology for semi-trailers in order to assess the feasibility of introducing this technology in Ontario.

Specifically, MTO is looking to fully understand the different SLA systems offered in today’s market and will only consider SLA’s if it can be confirmed the vehicles that use them are compliant with weight and dimension legislation at all times. Included in the information gathering will be a scan of neighbouring jurisdictions and how they manage this technology as well as developing a schedule to address all SPIF semi-trailer configurations in the most effective manner.

“Working with manufacturers and carrier members interested in smart lift axle technology, we can create regulatory conditions that will satisfy MTO and create an opportunity for Ontario carriers to use this GHG-reducing technology,” said OTA vice president, Operations and Safety, Geoff Wood.

To assist OTA in its efforts with MTO, OTA carrier and supplier members are asked to provide input by clicking here and completing a brief survey by September 9, 2016.

In addition to the survey, carrier or supplier members with technical specifications or detailed smart lift axle product information can forward it to operations&safety@

Please note this initiative does not include work on 6×2 tractors (a separate project is underway on that front at the national level), nor is Ontario planning to revert back to standard lift axles in its regulations.

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