ACCORDING to VOSA, vans are by far the worst offenders when it comes to overloading.
The law on safe loading is enforced by random roadside checks and these show that 20% of vans are overweight. That compares with 7.5% of HGVs and 5.5% of PSVs.
Overloading your van can severely compromise its dynamic behaviour. This includes braking, steering and handling – all of which could cause danger to you and other road users in the event of an emergency.
So the law on safe loading is strict, and infringements can mean a fine of up to £5,000. Remember that regardless of who loaded the vehicle in the first place the driver is responsible for its cargo. As a business van operator you will also have a duty of care to ensure that your drivers are not placed at risk.
Both drivers and operators of overloaded vans can be fined £5000. And the load has to be reduced to a safe limit before the van can complete its journey.
Loose loads such as sand or stones can be blown off vehicles, and therefore must be secured. It is also important to secure loads inside your van to stop them moving in transit. Insecure loads can affect vehicle handling, while shifted goods risk falling onto people when load doors are opened.
Use racking, shelving, hooks and ties to prevent unsafe loads and injury.
Don’t exceed the permitted weight of your vehicle. If you are unsure what the permitted weight is, ideally visit a weighbridge, but otherwise looking at the ‘vehicle plate’ or the handbook. The position of the plate will be shown in the handbook, and with details of exactly how much the vehicle can carry.
Remember that poor load distribution could overload a single axle without exceeding the maximum overall permissible weight.
Width and length is also important when considering overloading of a vehicle.
Don’t neglect load distribution even if the load is within the weight limit
The overall width of your vehicle must not exceed 2.9 metres. Moreover, if your load projects more than 305mm from the side of the van it must be marked with special boards.
Any load that extends between one and two metres behind a vehicle must be marked and clearly visible (e.g. with a piece of red cloth). Loads that extend over two metres require special markers, while loads that stick out more than 3.05 metres require police permission.
Finally, don’t neglect load distribution. Even if your load is within the weight limits, heavy items should be placed on or near the bed, and preferably towards the centre. Never carry heavy items on a roof rack.
Visit this link for more information on safe loading from VOSA.