Half of van drivers are unaware of overloading risks

New research has shown that one in two van drivers in the UK are unaware of the risks and legal ramifications of overloading their vans. 

The study commissioned by Volkswagen revealed that 1.2 million of Britain's three million van drivers don’t know their vehicle’s maximum load carrying capacity, while half of UK businesses admitted that they didn't monitoring the weights of their commercial vehicles.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency stopped over 10,800 vans and found 89 per cent of them to be driving overloaded. As a result fines of £100 - £300 were issued, with some vehicles being taken off the road until the overloading was rectified. Drivers also face invalidating their insurance and in severe cases a court summons.

Overloading also impacts the van’s handling, leading to longer stopping distances and increasing the risk of tipping over. It can also cause excessive wear and tear to the van affecting tyres, suspension and brakes. 

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency stopped over 10,800 vans on UK roads and found 89 per cent to be driving overloaded.

Gordon MacDonald, Vehicle Product Manager at the DVSA, said: “Overloading is a real issue on our roads and it is the responsibility of both the driver and the business to load vehicles correctly and keep their van within its legal weight limit.”



Top 5 tips to prevent overloading

Know the weight and weight limits of your vehicle: Maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) can be found in the driver's handbook or on a plate located next to the bulkhead or by the driver or passenger door. This includes the weight of the vehicle, driver, load and any passengers. You should never exceed the GVW. 

Don't confuse gross vehicle weight (GVW) with the gross train weight (GTW): The GVW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle (plus any load it is carrying), while the GTW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle plus any trailer being towed and its respective load.

GVW is different to payload capacity: Payload capacity relates to the maximum weight of the van's cargo and you can find this in the driver's manual. For example, the Transporter’s payload capacity ranges from 682kg – 1340kg which means it can carry 53 bags of sand, 670 bricks or 33 standard MDF boards.

Allow for the weights of any pallets or packing cases and anything on a roof rack: Do those bags of sand come on a Euro Pallet? Do you have a roof rack with ladders and metalwork? Well, you need to factor it all into the van's payload calculations. A couple of pallets will mean carrying a few bags of sand less to stay legal.

Ensure the load is distributed evenly: Always check the distribution of the load is even and secure. It’s possible to be under the GVW but still have an overloaded axle, which will cause damage to the van and impact handling.