Load Safety

Loading your vehicle

Whether you're going on holiday or carrying goods for work, it's important to make sure that your vehicle is loaded properly to keep you and other road users safe. There are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risks of something going wrong.  

  • Anything you carry on or in a vehicle must be loaded and secured so it can't fall out onto the road or make your vehicle unstable. Don't rely on just its weight to hold it in place.  
  • In a car, put heavy items in the boot if you can. It's best to keep them away from the people in the car. 

  • Always load up to a bulkhead if you can. This stops the load sliding forward when you brake.

  • If you're carrying lots of different items, put heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top. This stops your vehicle becoming top heavy, which could make it more likely to overturn.

  • Don't overload your vehicle or trailer. You could be given a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points on your licence if your vehicle is too heavy.

  • Check your driving licence if you're towing a trailer behind your car or van. If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 you may need to take an additional test depending on the weight of your vehicle and the trailer.

  • If you're carrying long items like ladders and boards on a roof rack, you should make sure that they're tied down at the front and back as well as over the top.

  • Anything carried at an angle over the headboard of your vehicle, like poles, pipes or boards, should be loop-lashed (where a ratchet strap is looped around the load before being fastened down at each side of the vehicle) to stop it being launched forward if you have to break suddenly.

Vehicle Loading - The Law

It is illegal to drive a vehicle in a dangerous condition, where the condition of the vehicle itself or the way it has been loaded and the way the load is secured, means that there's a danger of injury to the driver or other people. You can get a Fixed Penalty Notice if you're caught driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition. You'll get a fine of £100 and could get 3 penalty points on your licence if the load has moved.

In some circumstances, for example if the way you loaded your vehicle has caused or contributed to an accident, you could be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.