The Safety of Long Combination Vehicles

This archived article is from October 2003. Although every effort has been made to make sure the information presented is accurate, please note that it may contain information that is out-of-date.

Long Combination Vehicles (LCVs) are truck tractors with two or three trailers. Either the number of trailers or the combined length of the configuration exceeds normal limits. Within Canada, they operate by special permit in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. British Columbia and the Northwest Territories allow limited use of LCVs on highways that are extensions of Alberta's road system.

LCV permits specify the conditions under which the vehicles are allowed to operate, such as highways on which they can be driven, time of day, time of year, weather conditions and driver experience. There are also speed restrictions. In Alberta, for example, the speed of LCVs is limited to 100 km/h even where the general limit is 110 km/h. Driver qualifications are stringent.

While there are safety concerns about LCVs, their collision rate is relatively low. This may be because of the strict controls placed on them by the carriers and by the road authorities, and because the drivers must meet high standards of skill and experience.

A literature review commissioned by the Canada Safety Council found that overall there is little difference in crash rates between LCVs and other trucks when operated under similar conditions of wether, road and driver experience. However, LCVs reduce the kilometres travelled to move the same volume of freight. Factoring in exposure and freight demand, LCVs appear to have a safety record equivalent to standard trucks.