Welcome to the SAMTRAC Blog

How to prevent overloading your vehicle

[fa icon="calendar"] 11/22/17 4:45 PM / by SAMTRAC


Cover image 22 November 2017.jpg

So your brother’s offered you a bookcase he’s trying to get rid of. Problem is, you don’t know anyone with the type of truck to transport it to your place. No problem – just lash the furniture to your car roof and off you go. No big deal, right?


Wrong. If your car isn’t equipped to handle certain loads, you can do it irreparable damage or – much worse – be involved in an accident where someone is fatally hurt.


So free furniture aside, you may be in danger of overloading your vehicle and not know it. Here’s some help on how to prevent overloading your vehicle.


Find out your vehicle weight limits

Look for the manufacturer’s plate, which you can located under the bonnet, on your trailer’s chassis or in the cab. This will have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) stamp on it and/or the maximum permitted axle weight.


The GVW is your maximum permissible operating weight limit. This includes the:

  • vehicles chassis
  • body
  • engine
  • engine fluids
  • fuel
  • driver
  • passengers, and
  • cargo

but excludes trailer weight (which comes under gross train weight (GTW)).


You could be under weight – but you’re still breaking the law

How? It is possible that you can be under the vehicle’s GVW figure and still be classed as overloaded, by exceeding the permitted axle weight limit. To avoid this you should ensure your load is distributed evenly across more than one axle.


Don’t carry unnecessary items

One way to avoid overloading a vehicle is to eliminate unnecessary equipment or shelving. Modify storage bin units to fit your needs. Clean out the unnecessary items. Carry only those items that you know you will need. If given an opportunity, drivers will carry everything they can conceivably fit into a vehicle.


What to do if you have to haul a heavier-than-normal load

For instance, what do you do when you go on holiday? You can:

  • change to tyres of the same size with a higher load range
  • change to larger tyres
  • increase the pressure in each tyre on your car (as long as you don't exceed the maximum).


Train your drivers on proper loading principles

  • Design loading areas that force workers to position freight correctly.
  • Schedule the routes so that freight is positioned for weight distribution and not in the interest of delivery time.
  • It is also important to train drivers on proper loading techniques so they don't create an unsafe situation.
  • During the training process, don't forget to train forklift operators on proper freight distribution.


Employ smarter routing

Schedule pick-ups to correspond to drop-offs. If applicable, employ a hub-and-spoke distribution system using a centralised hub vehicle, such as a large step van, rather than driving to a centralised warehouse. A large telecommunications fleet in Southern California, which is using smaller vehicles to make shorter trips to a hub vehicle, has adopted this approach.


Download the HSE Checklists







Topics: Driving safety, driver training, Driver safety, overloading



SAMTRAC International is the leading occupational health, safety and environment (HSE) management e-learning training course that provides students with the foundational and fundamental knowledge critical to occupational HSE management.

subscribe to our blog
Download the SAMTRAC Mining glossary

Lists by Topic

see all