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  • How to comply with wide load regulations in the UK

    While most logistical standards are closely aligned, each country has its own road transport regulations. We've put together a guide to tell you everything you need to know about wide load regulations in the UK.

    Transporting wide loads in the UK requires some preparation. It is important to ensure that all safety measures are met, as well as obtaining the necessary permits. The question is, what qualifies as a wide load?

    How to comply with wide load regulations in the UK

    What is classified as a wide load in the UK?

    An abnormal load is a vehicle with any of the following:

    • A weight exceeding 44,000 kg
    • A non-driving axle weighing more than 10,000 kg
    • A single driving axle with an axle load of more than 11,500 kg
    • More than 2.9 metres in HGV width
    • Over 18.65 metres of rigid length

    Please note that the UK has no legal height limit. However, it is advisable not to exceed 4.95 metres (or 16 feet 3 inches). Some bridges are lower than this, so route planning for high loads must be carefully considered.

    Additionally, vehicles weighing 44 to 150 tonnes (abnormal load categories 1, 2, and 3) are restricted to driving at 40 mph on motorways, 35 mph on dual carriageways and 30 mph everywhere else.

    Transport includes, but is not limited to, trains to terminals, airplanes to airports, yachts to marinas, motorhomes to caravan parks, heavy machinery to manufacturing facilities and fuel tanks to businesses nationwide.

    The importance of wide load regulations

    If you're a HGV driver, you know how important it is to stay on the right side of wide load regulations in the UK and maintain compliance with weight limit requirements. Their role is to ensure that the transportation of goods and services can continue to flow smoothly. These rules help ensure that roads do not become clogged with oversized or overloaded vehicles and are in place for a number of reasons, including safety concerns for drivers and passengers as well as damage to the road.

    How to comply with wide load regulations during transportation

    When carrying an abnormal load, you also bear responsibility for it. We have put together a few helpful guidelines to keep in mind before transporting a wide load. After all, nobody wants to carry heavy loads as well as a heavy fine!

    Notifying authorities (Highways England, Police, Highways and Bridges)

    The law requires that those transporting abnormal loads – within the UK or overseas – must inform the police, highway authorities and, if appropriate, bridge and structure owners of their plans. The legislation that covers abnormal loads movement is known as ‘The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003’. Often called the STGO. The full legislation can be found at legislation.gov.uk.

    To plan your route, you can fill out an abnormal load movement application form or use Highways England's electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (ESDAL).

    ESDAL lets you plan your route, notify the appropriate authorities when you move abnormal loads on the road, be informed about any potential route problems ahead of time, and store vehicle information and routes for later use.

    Be sure to give early warnings since getting the necessary clearances may take time. Application forms for Special Orders, for example, must be submitted 10 weeks in advance.

    Necessary documentation

    Preparations must be made in advance for transporting wide loads in the UK:

    • The Chief of Police must be notified of every area in which the vehicle will travel. Advance notice should be at least two working days, although it may be given up to six months in advance.
    • Provide full details of the load's dimensions, taking into account any edges that overhang.
    • In your notice, you should specify the date, time and route of your abnormal load journey.
    • It is mandatory for cargo to be securely loaded in accordance with Regulation 100/2 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (1986). The vehicle should not be used or loaded in a manner that may endanger the vehicle's users or other road users.
    • The vehicle's front and rear should be marked with visible markers, such as wide load signs or flashing beacons.
    • If the load is very heavy or has a large projection to the sides, a police escort may be necessary.

    Do I need an abnormal load escort vehicle?

    While abnormal loads do not need to be escorted legally, police forces encourage the use of private escorting services. As part of the standards, you must notify local authorities of plans to transport abnormal loads, and they may also insist that escorting vehicles be used to ensure safety.

    While escort vehicle services are not legally required, it is popular practice to have one or more accompanying vehicles that can inform the main vehicle of any places that might not be easily accessible.

    More information on this can be found in Highway England’s Code of Practice.

    Stay in the know

    When planning to transport a wide load, it is always important to be aware of UK wide load regulations. Compliance with regulations is a must. Although it can be time-consuming and expensive, adhering to the rules ensures that operations run smoothly and safely.

    In addition to wide load regulations, a good awareness of blind spots for HGVs is of great importance and should be communicated regularly to your team.

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