Transporting abnormal loads presents unique challenges. Hauliers must adhere to stringent specific regulations governing abnormal loads, such as weight limits, width restrictions, and length requirements. Failure to comply can result in legal consequences, fines, and potential damage to infrastructure. In this article, we look at the definition of abnormal loads, the existing regulations and the various specialised trailers designed to handle such mammoth transportation requirements.

What is an Abnormal Load?

In the UK, an ‘abnormal load’ is a vehicle that has any of the following:

  • A weight of more than 44,000kg
  • An axle load of more than 10,000kg for a single non-driving axle and 11,500kg for a single driving axle
  • A width of more than 2.9 metres
  • A rigid length of more than 18.65 metres

The list above refers to weight, size and dimensional limits set by the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) Regulations 1998. These loads often include heavy or oversized items that cannot be feasibly disassembled for transportation, such as aircraft wings, military ordnance, mobile homes, construction equipment, large machinery, prefabricated structures, large boats and wind turbine blades. 

What are Special Types Vehicles (STVs)?

Special Types Vehicles (STVs) do not meet the Construction & Use and Authorised Weight regulations. That said, they can still be used under the authority of the Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 (STGO) by acquiring an STGO order issued by Highways England and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). STVs include various vehicles, such as abnormal indivisible load vehicles (AILVs), mobile cranes, engineering plants, and road recovery vehicles.

Understanding Wide and Long Loads Under the Regulations

Transporting wide and long loads require compliance with specific regulations, but here are just a few fundamental guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Width: Loads exceeding the Construction & Use load regulation widths or STGO limits require advance notice to be given to the police. If the load width exceeds a certain threshold, a Highways England form VR1 must be submitted along with the notice.
  • Height: There is no statutory limit for the overall height of a load, however, it is advisable to keep it below 4.95 m to optimise the use of the motorway network. 
  • Length: If the length exceeds a specified limit, a Highways England Special Order, along with notice to police and Road and Bridge Authorities, is required for transportation. 

The Solution: Abnormal Load Trailers

Transporting abnormal loads necessitates specialised trailers that are capable of accommodating the weight and dimensions, such as:

Ramped or Flatbed Trailers

Ramped or flatbed trailers are commonly used for transporting abnormal loads. They provide a flat surface without sides or a roof, allowing for the transportation of large and heavy loads.

Low Bed Trailers

Low bed trailers are designed explicitly for abnormal load transport. They offer increased deck length and are suitable for heavy lifting due to their lightweight design and low-profile tires.

Fixed Gooseneck and Fixed-Neck Trailers

Fixed gooseneck trailers provide an extended deck length for out-sized loads and are lightweight with drop ramps for heavy lifting. Fixed-neck trailers offer similar benefits without loading flexibility, although hydraulic detachable goosenecks can be used.

Extendable Flatbed Trailers

Extended flatbed trailers up to 29.7 m (98 feet) are available for longer loads. They provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate the length of abnormal loads.

Transporting abnormal loads requires a comprehensive understanding of the regulations and specialised trailers to handle such requirements. By adhering to the regulations, obtaining necessary orders, and utilising suitable trailers, it is possible to ensure road safety while efficiently transporting oversized or heavy items.

At Truck Trading, we understand the unique requirements of hauling abnormal loads. Whether you have trucks or trailers specifically designed for carrying abnormal loads or any other type of rigid truck, tractor unit or semi-trailer, we are here to assist you. Our expertise extends beyond the ‘we buy any truck‘ world. We also focus on used truck sales – and buy and export all types – ensuring that our customers receive value and quality every step of the way.

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