According to the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 8 in 10 vehicles they stop are pulled over because they are overloaded. If a van gets stopped for overloading and is also found to suffer mechanical defects, it could result in a court appearance or large fine.
Before getting behind the wheel, its important you know the maximum payload and understand what could happen if you overload your van.
The gross vehicle weight
To work out how much weight your van can legally carry you need to know two figures: the van’s unladen weight and its Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Usually, this information is in the owner’s manual, on the van’s chassis plate located on one of the door sills or near the door frame.
Unladen weight is the weight of the van when it’s not carrying any passengers, goods or other items. It includes all necessary operating consumables such as motor oil, transmission oil and coolant, but does not include fuel.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the van’s unladen weight plus the maximum load that can be safely carried when driving on the road – i.e. the maximum weight it’s allowed to be when fully loaded.
The calculation you need to perform to work out how much weight a van can legally carry is: GVW minus unladen weight. This will provide you with the van’s payload capacity.
The only sure-fire way of knowing if your van is overloaded is by taking it to a weighbridge centre. Most weighbridges are operated by private businesses so make sure to check their operating hours and how much it costs before you go.
A daily trip to your local weighbridge centre is not practical in the long run. Once you’ve got a good idea of how your van feels when it’s near its GVW, you’ll need to use common sense and personal judgement.
The implications of driving an overloaded van
Driving an overloaded van will affect its performance and safety, putting you and other road users in danger. It will put a strain on the suspension, making it look low to the ground and the steering will be heavier and feel askew. Driving an overloaded van can damage the roads, pavement and bridges, leaving the taxpayer to foot the repair bill.
Driving an overloaded van can including the following fines;
- 5-10% overloaded = £100 fine
- 10-15% overloaded = £200 fine
- 15-30% overloaded = £300 fine
If your vehicle is more than 30% overloaded you will receive a court summons. Your van could be immobilised and you might receive a fine of £80. If you do get summoned to court, you risk a fine of up to £5000.
If you’re involved in an accident and your vehicle is overloaded, your insurance will be void.
This means that by overloading your vehicle, you could be driving a commercial vehicle without insurance – a crime in itself, leaving your business with a hefty repair bill.
If you have any questions about your insurance policy, or if you’re not sure what’s covered, give us a call today.