Carrying loads

You must properly secure loads, and cover them if necessary.

You must not drive an overloaded vehicle (its permitted gross vehicle weight or maximum permitted axle weight is exceeded).

The permitted gross vehicle weight and maximum permitted axle weight of a goods vehicle are shown on the vehicle licence displayed on the windscreen or marked on both sides of the vehicle.

Gross vehicle or axle weight includes the weight of the vehicle and any passengers and load etc.

You must not carry or support any load on the tailgate.

You must not allow the load to touch the roadway.

You must make sure that your vehicle or trailer is loaded so as not to cause danger to you, your passengers or other road users; or to cause damage to the road or property. Jib, crane or similar attachments equipped on vehicles must be lowered and returned to its stowed positions after use as recommended by the manufacturers.

Overloading has a detrimental effect on the brakes, suspension and steering, making the vehicle difficult to control. An overloaded vehicle will respond slowly and irregularly to the driver's controlling actions, thus causing danger to other road users.

(For rules and advice on where to stop on the road to load and unload goods, see pages 92 and 93.)


Overhanging loads

When driving a vehicle with an overhanging load, you must ensure that there is a red flag not less than 1 square metre at the rear extremity of the load in daytime with good visibility. During the hours of darkness or in poor visibility, you must install a white light showing on each side of the front of the load and a red light showing at the rear of the load.

You must not load or drive a vehicle so that the load

  • extends beyond the front of the vehicle by more than 1.5 metres;
  • extends beyond the rear of the vehicle by more than 1.4 metres;
  • extents sideways with an overall width (including the load and the vehicle) more than 2.5 metres;
  • with the vehicle is higher than the overall height of the vehicle specified in the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (e.g. light goods vehicle: 3.5m, medium/heavy goods vehicle: 4.6m); or
  • is at a height that may cause damage to any object or wires erected above the road.

Fallen or spilled loads

If a load or object falls or spills from your vehicle, stop your vehicle in a safe place and try to remove the fallen load or deal with the spillage - if it is safe and practicable to do so. If you are unable to quickly and safely remove the object, try to warn other road users and fetch help.

On major trunk roads and expressways, or in tunnel areas and in control areas, use mobile phone to inform the police or control centre. Never try to retrieve a fallen load by yourself.


Long Vehicles

When driving a long vehicle, you may not be able to keep within the normal traffic lane or follow the path taken by smaller vehicles, particularly if the lane is narrow and your path is tightly curved. When carrying out unusual manoeuvres, look out for other road users, in particular pedestrians, motorcyclists or cyclists who may drive or step into the swept path of your vehicle or into one of your blind spots. Turning left or right has to be done with great care. On leaving a junction, stay in lane until you are well past the junction.

Before driving an articulated vehicle, check that all the twist locks are fully engaged and locked in position with the container and the trailer properly connected to the tractor including braking and electrical connections, in addition to the usual safety checks.

Additional rules for drivers of articulated vehicles can be obtained from any Licensing Office of the Transport Department (see 'Further Reference Materials').

Additional reference information for loading of vehicles is available in the 'Code of Practice for the Loading of Vehicles' (see 'Further Reference Materials').



On Tow Sign'ON TOW' sign - the letters and characters must be at least 150mm high in white on a dark surface.

You must not tow another vehicle with a tow rope or chain if the gap between the two vehicles is greater than 4.5 metres. You must make sure the tow rope or chain is clearly visible to other road users.

The vehicle being towed must be under the control of a driver holding a valid driving licence for the class of the vehicle who is able to brake and steer the vehicle properly. A proper 'ON TOW' sign must be fitted to the rear of the vehicle being towed.

Other rules apply when using tow bars or towing vehicles capable of lifting vehicles.