• Bluedrop Insurance Blog
  • Vehicle overloading increases fleet costs as well as threatening safety

    Vehicle overloading increases fleet costsSafety is a major concern in fleet management which is why it is important to load your vehicles correctly, in particular HGV’s carrying cargo.

    Overloaded vehicles are one of the leading causes of truck-related accidents. Ignoring your fleet vehicles payload can unfortunately increase the chances of the driver losing control of the vehicle and overloaded cargo is also more likely to shift causing imbalances in the weight distribution. In addition to this overloading your vehicle can nullify your haulage insurance.

    Safety concerns of an overloaded vehicle

    If a load shifts during a lane change or a sudden turn then the truck is also more likely to roll causing untold damage and threatening the safety of your driver as well as other road users. Regardless of over-loading, faulty loading can also cause the truck to be off-balance. It is important to check everything is loaded correctly as insufficiently secured loads can result in items falling off the truck while it is moving, causing an accident.

    An overloaded vehicle will have significantly reduced emergency handling capacity and as a result braking distances increase causing drivers in many cases to misjudge stopping distances. Overloaded vehicles will also travel much faster down an incline, requiring additional braking which an inexperienced truck driver may not be able to handle sufficiently.

    Cost increases from wear and tear

    In addition to the safety concerns, overloaded vehicles can be very costly to maintain and operate as their performance is strained and wear and tear on the brakes and other components, such as tyres, will be accelerated. In fact, overloading is often cited as the main cause of unscheduled maintenance for HGVs. It is also important to consider individual axle loading. Whilst the overall vehicle payload may not be too high it is possible to overload either a front or rear axle which will cause premature wear and tear and affect the way the vehicle should be driven.

    How to determine vehicle overload

    It is always important to correctly calculate the vehicle’s individual payload. One of the best ways to keep an eye on vehicle loading is to assess vehicle usage in the field. It is important to visually check for sagging at the rear of the truck, irregular tyre wear, premature brake wear and a loose suspension and steering. As a fleet manager you should also keep a tight inventory control of what is held on the vehicle and to make sure any unnecessary items are removed to help with the payload.

    Over spec to avoid issues

    We would recommend you to over spec and build in a 15-20 percent cushion into each vehicle’s payload capacity in order to avoid the chances of overloading. You should also ensure that you are utilising the correct category of vehicle for the job and not to modify the vehicle to accommodate greater payloads. Different modifications can reduce the available payload without realising and therefore increase your liability exposure or invalidate any claims.

    All in all overloading will shorten your vehicle’s service life and increases your operating expenses, not to mention any accident related business fleet insurance costs. Be vigilant and carry out full checks on your payload at all times.

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's Fleet Insurance?
    Return to blog menu