HGV overloading your vehicle is one of the most dangerous things you can do as a professional driver. Not only is this dangerous to you and your vehicle, but it also causes danger to other road users.

The dangers of HGV overloading

The first danger is to you. Not only to your personal safety but also to your driving career and your criminal record. HGV overloading can result in your vehicle being stopped until you have relieved some of the weight, meaning you could be late for your job and also reprimanded by your employer or even sacked. In addition, you could be prosecuted and end up with a criminal record as a result of HGV overloading. This is because an overloaded vehicle poses additional dangers to the public as well. A vehicle carrying too much weight can’t stop as quickly as one which is within the legal weight range.

Those vehicles carrying too much weight are also less stable than they should be, and this combination is a risk for other road users when you’re driving. If you were to be involved in an accident, your vehicle’s insurance would be void if you’re overloaded, and this in turn can have knock-on effects for your job. Using the roads in an overloaded vehicle can cause infrastructure damage which adversely affects other road users. And finally, an overloaded vehicle wears out more quickly than one that’s been loaded properly, costing your employer more money in the long run.

How to prevent HGV overloading

You should always be aware of the vehicle’s weight and the weight of the load. If you don’t know, you should find out as soon as possible, because otherwise, you could be overloading it without knowing. Even if your load in total is within the required range, you may need to redistribute it so that the weight is spread evenly throughout the vehicle. This prevents one side from being heavier than the other, which can also cause you problems with braking, control, wear and tear.

If you’re unsure about your load, head to the nearest weighbridge. If you’re driving to the nearest weighbridge and are stopped, you will usually be allowed to continue to it to check your load. You can find your nearest public weighbridge by visiting www.tradingstandards.gov.uk, finding your local office, and location the list of nearby weighbridges. Always measure the weights yourself. Don’t take anyone else’s word for it, and that includes labels, declared weights, invoices and other paperwork from your customers. It’s your duty to check the weights yourself and always to assume there may be a discrepancy.

Always factor in the weight of your vehicle and trailer, as well as the driver and passengers, when calculating the total weight of the vehicle. Always use the lift/tag axle when your vehicle is loaded otherwise your vehicle could exceed the weight limit.

What’s the legislation around HGV overloading?

The law under the Road Traffic Act 1988 says that you are responsible for making sure your vehicle is not overloaded. It explicitly states that you need to ensure that all parts of your vehicle are taken into account when calculating the weight, and that you should make sure the load distribution is correct.  Your employer is also responsible for making sure you know and are required to follow the procedures, otherwise they themselves could get into trouble too.