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Abnormal Loads UK

The need to transport abnormal loads by road is often unavoidable, especially for businesses in the mining, construction and primary sectors. Often these loads are large and heavy, requiring industry-specific vehicles and equipment to transport them. This guide has been developed as a comprehensive one-stop shop providing additional guidance to existing load restriction information.

The transport of abnormal loads by road needs careful planning. Abnormal loads are loads that because of their size, specifically height, length or width, cannot be safely transported by normal means.

It’s not abnormal to need to carry large loads by road. And whilst this can sometimes carry an element of unpredictability, there is a huge amount that can be done to help prevent delay and disruption.

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According to GOV.UK, your vehicle qualifies as an abnormal load if it meets any of the following criteria:

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


Depending on the type of vehicle you use, a different piece of legislation may apply to your abnormal load.

  • For most general road freight vehicles, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 set out the characteristics that must be met.
  • In unusual cases, it’s possible to transport vehicles that do not comply with those regulations – for example, very large plant machinery, agricultural vehicles and mobile cranes.
  • For those and equivalent vehicles, the relevant legislation is the Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003, commonly referred to by its abbreviation, STGO.

If you need to transport an oversized load, there are several common precautions taken with the cargo itself, as well as along the route. These include emergency flares and warning signs to alert drivers, wide turn radius and low speed operation to avoid tipping over, and restricted vehicle height when driving under low bridges.

Oversized loads are sometimes transported by specially designed oversized load vehicles. These vehicles tend to be either modified conventional rigid trucks or semi-trailer trucks, with a special load restraint system that consists of nets, turnbuckles, lifting slings and support structures.