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The vast range of goods carried by road makes the regulations on loading a complex business, with many detailed requirements and official or unofficial codes of practice relating to different types of load.
The overall requirement is one of safety.
A code of practice on load security has been produced by DTLR under the title ‘Safety of loads on vehicles' to provide operators, drivers and loading staff with guidance as to the basic safety principles which must be followed generally.
The law requires that the weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load of a motor vehicle or trailer shall at all times be such that no danger or nuisance is caused or is likely to be caused to any person in or on the vehicle or on a road.
This requirement is contained in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (C&U).
Safety of Loads on Vehicles
The C&U regulations state that:
The Safety Problem
The problem of load security on vehicles is one of restraining the movement of the load against the forces which arise from a vehicle passing over undulations in the road, changing direction, accelerating or braking, etc.
It is easier to prevent a load from moving in the first place than to stop it once it has started moving, thus a load must be restrained in such a way that no part of it can move in any direction relative to the vehicle e.g. a load anchored securely against a bulkhead is likely to be safer than one which is loosely restrained and able to move a short distance.
If a load shifts or falls from a vehicle, both the driver and the operator of the vehicle are liable to be prosecuted for using a vehicle with an insecure load. Equally where a vehicle is found to be overloaded both the driver and the operator may be prosecuted
Choice of vehicle
The design and construction of vehicle and bodywork should be suitable for the loads which it is likely to carry.
Arrangements of loads
The load should be placed so that the centre of gravity is kept as low as practicable and near to the vehicles longitudinal centre line. Where possible:
A headboard should be capable of withstanding a horizontal force uniformly distributed over its vertical area of half the rated payload of the vehicle. Additionally, it should be:
Load Securing Equipment
The best means of securing a load to a vehicle will depend on the type and composition of the load and must be strong enough for the weight of the load carried.
Advice is given in respect of the type and quality/size of securing devises: ropes, chains, webbing, nets and clamps.
A combination of methods will usually be used to restrain a load including:
Any load restraint system used must be able to prevent movement of the load under certain forces of forward and rearward deceleration, lateral acceleration when a vehicle is cornering, and upward movement resulting from a vehicle going over bumps in the road.
Load distribution and centre of gravity
It is important to ensure that the maximum permitted gross vehicle weight and individual legal axle limits are not exceeded at any time, because of the transfer of weight.
If it does, the load must be re-distributed.
To keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, larger and heavier items should be placed at the bottom, on the centre line of vehicle, heavy items in front of light, crushable ones, and loads, if possible, spread to give an even weight distribution over the loading platform.
Do's and Don'ts for drivers and others concerned with the loading of vehicles.
The main principles for those concerned with the loading and driving of vehicles. The following offer sound and practical advice.
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