When you take on courier work, you need to be aware of the risks of over- or incorrectly loading your vehicle. Given the legal penalties for failing to comply, this is not an area couriers should overlook. |
Why Limits Exist
Manufacturers typically spend significant amounts of money trying to establish the safe loading limits for their vehicles. The raw data is than used by the legal profession to make recommendations that ultimately pass into law.
What the manufacturers are saying is that loading a vehicle above a certain weight means that all bets are off in terms of their responsibilities for the safe performance of that vehicle.
So, exceeding those limits can be dangerous for a driver’s courier work, for other road users and pedestrians. That’s why the penalties for overloading or loading incorrectly can be very significant.
It’s worth remembering that as the driver of a vehicle, the buck stops with you.
The police and authorities will have heard all the excuses: “I didn’t know how much it weighed”, “it wasn’t me, it was the loading bay”, “I only go by what the paperwork says and that says I’m under the limit”. Be aware – as the law stands, this type of plea typically counts for nothing. You are in charge of the vehicle so it’s up to you to be sure it is safely and legally loaded.
Weight, Distribution and Space
If you take on any courier work, you must also understand that the law doesn’t just specify a maximum weight for a given vehicle. It’s also important to make sure the load is evenly distributed and where appropriate, things such as axle loading weight limits aren’t exceeded. The load also needs to meet legal requirements in terms of projecting beyond the dimensions of the vehicle.
Drivers must take these things as seriously as absolute weight limits. If your vehicle is seen to be lifting off two wheels on roundabouts or driving with huge projections from the rear and/or sides, then you should anticipate a heated exchange with the police - even if you are below loading weight limits!
The law typically doesn’t accept ignorance as an excuse, so you should check the maximum weights and weight distributions for your specific vehicle in the manufacturer’s guide or online.
In terms of absolute weights, there are public weighbridges which should be used if you are in any doubt and don’t forget that customers and loading bays can make genuine errors with their weight declarations. An even better idea might be to consider an in-vehicle load monitoring system, which will automatically alert you if someone is overloading your vehicle.
Basically, if you are responsible for any courier work, you should get to grips with this issue and potential solutions – and quickly.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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