Road Bans – Preparing for Prairie Passage

Ever seen a sign that says something like “road restrictions”, “road ban”, or something indicating the maximum axle weight or percentage? While these signs may look and read differently, they all discuss the same thing: road bans.

Road bans is a critically important topic for professional truck drivers to understand. This article is meant to help you understand how they work in Canada’s prairie provinces and where to go for accurate information.

We’ve also included the links to the official provincial government websites for this topic in the References section. Read on to learn more!

Note: if you’re reading this article on paper, the embedded links won’t work. That’s why we’ve put links in a numbered References section so you can enter them into your device.

What are road bans and why do they matter?

While roads may seem pretty strong, their strength varies greatly depending on the time of year. In Canada, harsh prairie winters cause water in the ground underneath the roads to freeze, creating a very hard road surface. In the summer, dry ground keeps the roads strong.

In spring, though, many roads are weakened. This is because the solid ice melts under the road, creating softer ground conditions before they dry.

Soft roads can be easily damaged by heavy trucks. Therefore, the prairie provinces all have systems in place to reduce truck weights on certain roads. This is why it’s very important for professional drivers to understand the weight limits on their route. Otherwise, be prepared for expensive tickets!

Alberta Road Bans

Alberta generally takes a road-by-road approach to road bans. This means you need to know which roads you will be traveling to compare to the province’s official road ban list which can be found on their website. [1]

Road bans in Alberta are generally marked with a sign, too. These have a percentage on them, like 75%, which means you are allowed to be up to a maximum of 75% of the regular legal weight for that road on each of your axle groups (except for the steer axle, which is exempted.

Be sure to do an internet search for “Alberta road ban signs” to get an idea for the different types of signs that are used throughout the province. Also, you can contact the Sheriff Highway Patrol’s Vehicle Inspection Stations to ask about potential road bans along your route. [2]

Saskatchewan Road Bans

Unlike Alberta, Saskatchewan designates certain routes as nine-month primary weights, meaning these roads allow maximum weights all year except for three months during thaw. The specific dates change depending on the location and even on the year, so you can access the most current information on their website (there are generally no signs on the roads themselves for this purpose); this same website also contains contact information for route-specific information. [3]

There are other road bans beside the nine-month primaries, though. When traveling off major highways, like Highway 1, make sure you check to see the maximum weights allowed on your route. Steering axle weights are also generally exempted from reduction, but be sure to confirm what is allowed on the steers as it can change between different roads.

Manitoba Road Bans

Similar to Saskatchewan, Manitoba divides its many roadways into zones, and they designate specific dates each year where the routes in those zones are at reduced weights; you need to check online since they generally don’t put up signs. You can access this information on their website, including contact information for their Permit Services and Motor Carrier Enforcement. [4]

Manitoba also uses percentage-based signs in some locations to tell drivers to reduce their axle weights by percentage. Unlike Alberta and Saskatchewan, though, Manitoba doesn’t exempt the steer axle for many trucks. This effectively means you probably can’t drive, even empty, on these percentage road bans since it’s not possible to reduce a truck’s steer axle weight by much. Often, local trucks are exempt, so just because you see trucks on the road doesn’t mean you can use it. Beware!


The prairie provinces can be absolutely wonderful to drive across. But, with spring upon us and many road ban seasons extending into June, be sure to check your route and call for help when needed.

Road bans may also come up for specific reasons, like construction or road damage. Always plan your route and pay attention to signs.


  1. Alberta website for road bans:
  2. Alberta website for Sheriff Highway Patrol contact numbers:
  3. Saskatchewan website for road bans:
  4. Manitoba website for road bans: