I regularly get asked what our advice is around the issue of overloading on vans; our response is very simply – don’t do it!
But the fact that we get asked so often is interesting in itself. Why is it there is this feeling that somehow there is a tolerance around loading vans?
The law is very straightforward. Every van will have both axle and overall weight limits. These limits will be found on the ‘manufacturers plate’ which all vans must have and can usually be found under the bonnet or around the passenger door. It is simply an offence under the Road Traffic Act (1988) to operate a vehicle in excess of these limits and both the driver and the employer are liable to prosecution with a maximum fine of up to £5000.
The police in particular are becoming increasingly aware of the issues around overloaded vans and are increasingly stopping and prosecuting – as they put it, spotting an overloaded van isn’t the hardest thing in the world!
So, what can be done to avoid falling foul of the law?
In our experience the problem is very often ignorance.
Many vans can physically hold way more that they can legally carry from a weight point-of-view. We see many examples of vans simply being loaded until they can’t fit any more in.
Another scenario we see regularly is the engineer in a van who “collects” things! The van may well have been carefully specified and fitted with properly designed racking and equipment, that, when allocated to the engineer was probably just under the magic 3500kg figure. The engineer then starts adding to the vehicle stock with the “just in case” tools and the “that might come in handy” materials and before we know it the vehicle is overloaded.
Our advice to operators is to check and check again that your engineers aren’t putting you at risk of an accident or prosecution (FTA can offer “gate checks” where, with the operator’s authority, we stop vans to check both their roadworthiness and weight – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information).
Make sure your drivers (and their managers and supervisors) know exactly what is expected of them and they know what their vans can legally carry.
And remember the buck stops with you.
Attend your FREE local Van Excellence Risk Seminar for more information on operational risks and how to avoid them.
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)