Credit: NW Motorway Police
It is commonly understood that in this present time commercial vehicles are continually being pulled over to have their weight limits checked by either traffic police or the DVSA. The benefits of being on the right side of the law can easily be seen with hefty fines payable if caught overloaded, or worse still if your overloaded vehicle is seen to be the cause of a crash.
We aim to provide this guide to assist you with staying on the right side of the law at all times.
The effects of overloading your vehicle
Other than the obvious fines (and prosecution) you are liable for, the danger to your vehicle, driver, passengers and other road users should always be considered.
- Insurance cover is void – If your vehicle is overloaded this is deemed as illegal. Should you be involved in an accident your insurance company can and will void your policy.
- Braking distances increased – It’s easy to see that with an increased load, your stopping distances won’t be the same as unladen which increases your chance of a collision.
- Vehicle wear and tear – Driving overloaded will significantly reduce your vehicles life span and increase the costs of repairs and maintenance.
- Difficult to steer correctly – An excessive load can become unstable and cause unpredictable behaviour to the steering therefore making incidents more likely to happen.
- Higher fuel consumption – The heavier the load, the higher your fuel consumption.
How to find out your vehicles weight limits
Look for either the manufacturers or Department for Transport plate which can be located either under the bonnet, on your trailers chassis or in the cab. This will have a GVW (gross vehicle weight) stamp on it and/or maximum permitted axle weight.
The Gross Vehicle Weight is your maximum permissible operating weight limit. This includes the vehicles chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, driver, passengers and cargo but excludes trailer weight which comes under GTW (Gross Train Weight).
Under the Weight limit but still breaking the law
It is possible that you can be under the vehicles GVW figure and still be classed as overloaded. How so? By exceeding the permitted axle weight limit.
To avoid this you should ensure your load is distributed evenly across more than one axle.
How to avoid overloading
Don’t trust weights given on invoices or picking notes. The only way to make sure is to weigh the vehicle yourself.
Fleet operators will usually have either a weighbridge, dynamic axle weigh scales or portable axle weigh pads available to use. Make use of these facilities and take a printout with you to give as proof should you be pulled over.
Should this not be available to you, your local trading standards team will be able to advise you where your nearest public weighbridge is.
Further information can be gained by visiting the DVSA website at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-standards-agency
For more information on our own range of vehicle weighing solutions, visit https://www.totalweighing.co.uk/22-vehicle or call 01327 368020