Drivers have been advised on the safe and legal practices to adhere to when transporting bulky items that might have to stick out or be fixed on top of vehicles. Motoring experts from LeaseVan.co.uk have warned drivers about the rules of overloading their cars and vans.
When travelling with items sticking outside of a vehicle, one of the most important things to consider is that lights and number plates are still visible.
Loads must also be carefully secured and marked if necessary.
Tim Alcock from LeaseVan.co.uk said: “It’s not uncommon to see cars packed with items of furniture, bikes, or even Christmas trees throughout the festive period, but drivers should be very careful and prepare properly if their vehicle is to be loaded in such a way.
“If loads exceed certain lengths or widths, you might have to give advance notice to the police, including details like the time, date, and route of your proposed journey.
“At the very least, you may just have to mark the end of a load sticking out of your vehicle with something like a red cloth, or a high vis jacket, strap or material.
“Some scenarios might also require you to drive with an ‘attendant’ who can give warning of any danger likely to be caused by the vehicle on the journey.
“Vehicles that are overloaded can pose dangers to the driver, passenger, and other road users, and if a vehicles’ gross or axle weight limits are exceeded, the driver risks prosecution.”
1. Loads overhanging the front or rear of a vehicle
For objects that stick out no more than one metre either to the front or back of a vehicle, there are no specific requirements. If the load projects between 1-2 metres at the back, the end must be made clearly visible and marked with something bright like a red cloth or a high vis jacket, strap, or material. For projections more than 2 metres, but not exceeding 3.05 metres towards the front or back, you’ll need to use special Overhanging Load markers and have an attendant for loads projecting forwards. For anything exceeding 3.05 metres, you need to give two clear working days’ notice to the local police, have an attendant, and use Overhanging Load markers.
2. Loads overhanging the side of the vehicle
If the load projection or overall width is between 305mm and 3.5 metres, you’ll need to give two clear working days’ notice to pole, use marker boards to the front and rear, and additional lights may be required during hours of darkness or poor visibility. If the width is more than 3.5 metres, you’ll need to do the same thing, but an attendant will also be required. Loads are not permitted to exceed 4.3 metres overall width.
3. On the roof
Roof racks and boxes are perfect for carrying large or awkward items, but you need to make sure you stay within the maximum permitted roof load for your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s manual for details. You should also make sure anything attached to the roof is fitted and secured properly. Ropes and straps can become loose over time, so stop regularly to check them. Don’t forget the extra height roof racks and bulky items can add too.