Transporting large loads safely: Considerations for long-distance haulage

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A long journey in any vehicle could subject the driver and those around you to risks – and extra consideration should be given when transporting large loads. You may be transporting oversized cargo on behalf of transport companies or for other purposes, such as towing a trailer due to moving house. Either way, the same level of preparation and awareness should apply.

Drivers embarking on long-distance journeys with heavy loads should be diligent at each stage of the process to keep everyone safe. This includes during the loading process and the drive itself. Here’s what you need to know.

Proper load-securing techniques

Ensuring that large goods are well secured onto your vehicle is essential. This is done to help prevent shifting. It can also help to avoid any damage during the journey. Certain equipment is used to secure down transportable goods, including bungee cords from suppliers such as RS when using strapping techniques. Alternatively, you can use chaining or blocking techniques.

Compliance with weight and dimension regulations

There are width and length limits to adhere to when carrying large cargo. Official guidance states that if your vehicle’s maximum authorised mass (MAM) is 3,500kg or less, you can’t tow a trailer longer than 7 metres, among other rules. You may also need to apply for a permit, so check whether this applies to you.

Check whether you are in line with this guidance before embarking on your journey. Otherwise, you could face legal penalties as it could compromise your own safety as well as the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

Route planning and risk assessment

If you take the time to plan the route beforehand, it means you can help avoid navigating tricky sections, such as narrow country roads or blockages like low bridges. You may even encounter a weight-restricted area if you’re not careful.

It’s a little like doing a risk assessment by helping you to prepare for and mitigate potential risks. There are online route planners you can use to help you carve out a route to help ensure your journey runs a little smoother.

Safety and emergency preparedness

As you would with any other long journey, you should factor in fatigue from driving by planning breaks. According to the charity Brake, fatigue is one of the major causes of road crashes. Around 10-20% of all crashes are estimated to be caused by driver fatigue.

To help you prepare, you might also consider driver training ahead of the journey so that you feel safer when getting out on the road. Doing a maintenance check before setting off will help give you peace of mind too. Remember that the additional load will put strain on your vehicle.

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