Driving an overloaded van poses a serious safety hazard to you and other drivers on the road. You may be tempted to maximise your payload and reduce overall fuel costs, but this can be a costly mistake!
Overloading your van significantly increases fuel consumption, tyres are more prone to wear, steering becomes more difficult to control, and your van will take longer to react to braking – increasing the likelihood of a potentially fatal accident
Fixed Penalty Notices are handed out to drivers of overloaded vans, and range from £50 to £300 depending on how much over the Gross Van Weight (GVW) the van is.
If caught driving an overloaded van, you could potentially be charged with dangerous driving, which may carry a prison sentence.
A van measuring more than 30% over the GVW will result in a court summons for the driver.
Other problems that can result from overloading your van includes:
The number of overloaded vans being stopped and checked is rising. If a fixed penalty notice is issued, the van will be prohibited from being driven.
Not only does this take your van off the road, but you must reduce the load before being allowed to continue.
Overloading a van is illegal and can potentially invalidate any insurance cover if you are involved in an accident, leaving you with a costly bill.
Loss of licence
Although most offences are dealt with a Fixed Penalty Notice, overloading convictions risk your licence being suspended, revoked or renewed.
Increased likelihood of accidents
Overloaded vans are harder to control, more unstable and more difficult to stop in an emergency. This carries the possibility of prosecutions for Dangerous Driving, Health and Safety offences and Corporate Manslaughter.
Damage to roads
Overloaded vans damage roads, bridges and underground services and decrease the predicted road life expectancy resulting in increased maintenance costs.
How to avoid van overloading
Know your van's weight limits
Drivers should refer to their van's identification plate. The plate usually shows a manufacturer and serial number, but also shows details of maximum permissible axle weight and maximum permissible GVW.
You will need to consider goods and/or tools that are being carried as they contribute to the overall weight.
Ensure even distribution of loads
The risks of overloading on GVW are well known, while the importance of axle weights is often overlooked.
There may be cases where the GVW is not exceeded, but the load may still exceed the maximum permissible axle weight.
Uneven loading of a van makes it far harder to handle, putting undue pressure on tyres, steering and braking so, check the axle weight before setting off. To be extra sure, pop into your local weighbridge.
It is important that van drivers are aware of the risks of overloading and the penalties that can result. The potential cost of having a licence revoked, an accident or a prison sentence is far greater than any savings that might be made by overloading your van