Why Road Freighters Can’t Overload Their Trucks – Even By a Little Bit

Sending freight can be frustrating sometimes. You plan your shipment. You pack it perfectly. Then your freighter comes along and says no-go. The cargo is too heavy. And you kind of already knew that. There was a sneaking suspicion. But it was only over by a couple of per cent. Ten per cent, max. So, what’s the big deal? Is your freight transporter simply being pedantic, or is there a reason for the refusal?

Four Reasons Why You Can’t Overload Your Freight for Road Transportation

1. It’s illegal

The UK government has clearly stated weight limits for all HGVs. This obviously means that all freighters are obliged to adhere to those weight limits. And that penalties can be levied when the law is flouted. While smaller discrepancies usually face a fixed penalty fine, relating to the overload percentage, if your load exceeds the national limits by 30% or more, the business – and the driver – will face a court summons, vehicle immobilisation, and an immediate fine.

2. It’s a matter of safety

All hauliers have a duty of care. Not just to protect their client’s goods in transit. But, far more importantly than that, to protect the safety of their drivers and other road users. An overloaded truck is less stable. It is also harder to steer and control. And it takes longer to brake. Put all that together, and you have an accident waiting to happen. Drivers have died due to overloaded vehicles. Innocent bystanders have died too. No ethical haulier will ever take that risk.

3. It can be really expensive

A couple of years ago, a removal company overloaded two of its vehicles, one by 48%, another by 33%. The company was fined £48,000 by Bristol Magistrates court. With the drivers also facing fines of their own. And let’s face it, when you take that kind of risk, you kind of deserve that kind of penalty.


All hauliers have an Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS), which the DVSA uses to decide whether or not a vehicle should be stopped and checked. Every occasion a truck is caught carrying a heavy load compromises their OCRS. And that means more stops and more checks. While you might be thinking, ‘OK, but that’s not my problem.’ It can easily become the customer’s problem when their shipments are continually delayed by the DVSA.

Whether you’re transporting goods around the UK, or sending freight to Europe, it’s really important to understand the limitations that hauliers have to work within. If a load is refused, it will never be due to pedanticism. It will be because your driver is doing their job.

Get in touch with Plexus Freight to discuss your UK and European freight needs.


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