Back loads are a truck operator’s dream come true. After you’ve completed a job, if you can get a load for your return leg, it’s clear profit. After all, the original load paid for all your costs. |
However, with the haulage industry being such a competitive one, with high costs across the board, the temptation to “cut corners” to maximize revenues and lower costs is still always there.
Back Loading and Overloading Do Not Go Together
There are very strict laws and regulations defining load and weight limits for trucks (1988 Road Traffic Act). As a driver or operator, you must be well aware of how these relate to you and the consequences of ignoring these regulations.
The problem is, of course, that there is always the temptation to add just a little bit extra to your back loads - exceeding your maximum weight limit by just a little so that you won’t lose a client. Then there are cases where your customer loads your vehicle with more than the bill of lading states so that he can get a bit extra for free. The only problem is that you, the driver, are legally responsible, and not knowing won’t help you if you are caught and prosecuted.
The Dangers of Overloading
Even though you know the risks involved when you overload a vehicle, it never hurts to run through the main dangers once more.
• The vehicle will be less stable, steering will be difficult and stopping distances increased. • Your vehicle may react differently when over weight limits. You could be placing your life and that of other road users in danger! • Excess weight causes excess tyre wear. This can lead to more frequent tyre replacement (expensive) and also sudden blow outs with possible loss of control and potential accidents. • Fuel consumption will rise, with increased costs possibly outweighing any financial gain. • Overloading a vehicle is illegal. Doing so will void your insurance in the event of an accident. • If you’re caught driving an overloaded truck you could face prosecution, a substantial fine (determined by how overweight the vehicle is) and a possible court summons. In addition, your vehicle will be prohibited from continuing its journey until excess weight has been removed and may be immobilised with a steel chain - which will involve an additional £80 release charge.
Taking on back loads that cause overloading also raises moral issues:
• Overweight trucks increase normal wear and tear on road infrastructures. These have to be repaired at the taxpayers’ expense and can result in higher license fees, fuel surcharges etc. • You’re in business to make a living but so are thousands of other hauliers across the country. By knowingly exceeding vehicle weight limits, you are creating unfair competition and taking work from others. Remember, if the practice becomes prevalent – the “over loader” will also lose income in the long run.
Tips to Prevent Overloading Back Loads
1. Know your vehicle’s weight limits, including axel weight limits. 2. If possible, redistribute your load after a drop off for proper weight distribution. 3. Use a weighbridge! Driving overweight to a weighbridge is permitted, as is driving to a location to unload excess weight. 4. Double check any weights declared by the customer, in invoices, delivery notes etc. Remember, if you’re overweight – you are responsible! 5. Remember that everything counts towards your trucks weight limits – even the weight of the driver and any passengers.
So, drive within weight limits to get home safely to the family and avoid any fines and prosecutions.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs and back loads with available vehicles. 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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