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LOADING OF GOODS VEHICLES

This leaflet has been prepared for the guidance of traders by the Northern Counties Chief Trading Standards Officers Group. It is not an authoritative document on the law and is only intended for guidance. 

 

WHAT DOES THE LAW REQUIRE?

The maximum load allowed to be transmitted to the road surface by a goods vehicle is limited by law. A court can impose fines of up to 5,000 for overloading. There are maximum gross and train weights for a vehicle as well as maximum individual axle weights, and groups of axles.

 

WHAT DO THESE TERMS MEAN?

Gross weight in relation to a motor vehicle means the sum of weights transmitted to the road surface by all of the wheels of the vehicle (note a trailer is not classed as being part of the motor vehicle). Train weight is a term used in relation to vehicles drawing trailers and is the sum of the weights transmitted to the road surface by all of the wheels of the vehicle and trailer.

The following illustrations show different types of vehicles:

 

RIGID VEHICLE

Gross weight = A + B kg

There is no train weight on this vehicle.

 

ARTICULATED VEHICLE

Gross weight = A + B kg

Train weight = A + B + C + D kg

 

WHICH VEHICLES ARE COVERED?

All goods vehicles from small vans to heavy lorries are required to comply with the weight limits laid down by the manufacturer or the Department of Transport. This information is required to be displayed on a plate in or on the vehicle.

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

The driver and his employer. Anyone else who causes or permits an overloaded vehicle to go onto the highway may also commit an offence.

 

WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL TYPE VEHICLES?

Regulations permit the carriage of abnormal indivisible loads and engineering plant on special vehicles but it is necessary to notify in advance the local authorities for the areas

through which the vehicle will travel and comply with other conditions that may be applicable. Such a notice MUST be accompanied by an indemnity for any damage to

a road or bridle. It must also state the weights involved and details of the route so the local authority can ensure the bridges and roads involved are suitable.

 

AVOIDING PROBLEMS AND KEEPING WITHIN THE LAW?

KNOW YOUR VEHICLE. You can prevent overloading by knowing your vehicle. It is important when you buy a new vehicle or have it repaired that you have it weighed empty. This will enable you to calculate the weight of the load that can be carried. It is also useful to weigh the vehicle fully loaded on a dynamic axle weighing machine as this will give you a record of the total weight and the axle loadings. You will then be able to see that the axle loadings are not exceeded and the load distribution necessary to achieve this. You may find that to prevent the overloading of some axles it is advisable that the vehicle is not fully loaded. Remember that the maximum loading is a maximum and not an average. If you always aim for the maximum you are liable at some time to be overloaded. In the case of an articulated vehicle the position of the point of pivot of the trailer onto the tractor unit (known as the 5th wheel coupling) has been found to be crucial in the correct loading of tractor units and the drive axle. Care should be taken to ensure it is correctly positioned.

 

WEIGH YOUR VEHICLE

If in the slightest double about the weight of your vehicle or axle loading you should weigh your vehicle at a weighbridge. Accurate axle weights can be obtained from a dynamic axle weighing machine but if one is not available an indication can be obtained by weighing the front and rear of the vehicle on a plate weighbridge.

You are permitted to travel to the nearest available weighbridge to check your load and to go to a place to offload some of the weight if it is overloaded. A vehicle which can be shown to have set off correctly loaded is permitted to gain up to 5% due to the action of the weather or to taking on fuel.

 

WHERE CAN I CHECK WEIGH?

You could use your own or your customers weighing facilities. You may also use a public weighbridge. The West Yorkshire Trading Standards Office at Morley has a dynamic weigher that is available for use free of charge 24 hours a day.

 

CUSTOMERS DECLARED WEIGHTS, INVOICES AND DELIVERY NOTES.

Unless you have good reason to rely on these weights they should be treated with some caution. Many customers do not know the weight of the load they require transporting and often their declarations can be best described as guesstimates. Also the 25 kg stated as the weight of each tub can be its minimum and not actual net weight with no account being taken of the weight of the tub or the pallets on which they sit. Remember the drivers and hauliers responsibility for overloading cannot be shifted to loaders, shippers and others who may give wrong or inadequate information.

 

ALWAYS ALLOW FOR THE WEIGHT OF PALLETS, PACKING CASES ETC.

MULTI DROP DELIVERIES

Removal of part of a load on a vehicle can cause an axle that was satisfactory to become overloaded. Removal of part of a load from the rear of a vehicle can increase the weight transmitted to the road by the front axle. If your business entails multi drop deliveries you may need to redistribute the remaining load after each drop

 

October 2000


North Yorkshire County Council

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