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How wide? How long? How high?

How wide? How long? How high? These questions, when asked in relation to vehicles and their loads, probably bring large commercial vehicles to mind for most drivers. The Commercial Transport Regulations do set out the maximum dimensions for commercial vehicles and their loads. The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations take a legal short cut and apply them and some other provisions to light vehicles too.

In general, your vehicle and its load cannot be more than 2.6 m (8' 6") wide, 12.5 m (41') long and 4.15 m (13' 7") high. In addition, its load cannot project more than 1 m (3' 3") ahead of the front bumper, 1.85 m (6' 8") behind the back of the vehicle or 4.5 m (14' 9") behind the center of the last axle. If you are driving something other than a pickup or delivery van, the load cannot be wider than the sides of the vehicle.

Things can get quite complicated from here if you add a trailer, are driving a pickup truck or delivery van or are carrying special commodities. Perhaps the simplest way to get advice before you set out on your trip is to know your exact dimensions and contact the nearest weigh scale. The inspectors there will provide expert advice and some scales are always open for your call.

Commercial vehicles may obtain exemptions from basic size rules through the use of a special exemption permit as long as the conditions of the permit are followed. The regulations do provide for the use of permits for light vehicles as well, but the last time I checked the policy was that these permits would not be issued.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

E-mail your questions or concerns: [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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