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Wide Loads On UK Roads - What Is The Maximum Size/Weight Allowed?

Posted by Liam Harrison on 14-Feb-2018 12:33:55

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Transporting wide loads on UK roads requires some advance planning and special permits. What constitutes a wide, or abnormal load? While most logistics standards are closely harmonised across the EU, road transport restrictions vary from country to country. Therefore, when transporting large, or unusually shaped goods, it is important to be aware of width, height and length allowances in all of the countries you travel through. In Scandinavian logistics, for instance, you may need to traverse two or even three national jurisdictions by road, as well as the first mile journey in the UK.

Here is a brief summary of the weight, height and length restrictions for road transport in the UK. Any cargo exceeding these parameters is considered an abnormal load.

UK Height, Width & Length Restrictions For ‘Normal Loads’

  • Weight: Up to 44 tonnes, subject to axle restrictions. A non-driving axle should not be subjected to more than 10 tons of weight, while a driving axle can carry 11 tonnes. It is therefore important to select an appropriate vehicle when transporting heavy loads.
  • Height: The UK does not have a legal height limit. In practice this allows vehicles of up to 4.9 m in height on some routes. However, be aware that some bridges are lower than this, so careful attention must be given to route planning for high loads.
  • Length: Up to 18.65 M for artic lorries.
  • Width: Up to 2.9 M.
  • Speed Limit: in England and Wales, goods vehicles are restricted to 60 mph on motorways and dual carriageway is, 50 mph on single carriageways, and 30 mph in built-up areas. In Scotland, vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes are restricted to 50 mph on dual carriageways, 60 mph on motorways, 30 mph in built-up areas, and 40 mph on single carriageways.

Transport For Abnormal Loads

It is possible to transport abnormal loads in the UK, but special arrangements need to be put in place in advance.

  • Notice should be given to the Chief Officer of Police for all the areas through which the vehicle is intended to travel. There should be at least two working days’ notice, although advance notice of up to six months can be given. We recommend leaving as much time as possible.
  • Your notice should include the date of transport, the time and your proposed route.
  • You should give full information about the overall length, width and height of the load, including any overhanging edges.
  • Visible markers should be prominently placed at the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Cargo must be securely loaded in compliance with Regulation 100/2 of the Road Vehicles (construction & Use) Regulations (1986)1.
  • Extremely heavy loads, or those with a large projection to the side, front or rear may require a police escort during the journey.

Speed restrictions: Vehicles weighing 44 to 150 tonnes (abnormal loads categories 1,2 & 3) are restricted to 40 mph on motorways, 35 mph on dual carriageways and 30 mph on all other roads.

Making arrangements for abnormal load transport can be a lengthy and frustrating process. However, an experienced logistics partner such as an NTEX will already have the processes in place to get the necessary permits quickly and avoid potential delays.

Safe Transport for Long Loads With NTEX

Safely transporting over width cargo and long loads on UK roads requires special arrangements and careful planning in advance. At NTEX we have more than 30 years’ experience of moving all types of cargo throughout the UK, Scandinavia and Northern Europe. To book a shipment or request a quote, please click here.

To find out more about Scandinavian logistics, please download our free Scandinavian Logistics Guide, which can be accessed by clicking here.

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