Loading a Van

Overloaded Van

An overloaded van can be dangerous to you and other road users. Stay safe with our ‘How to load a van’ guide.

Published: 1st September 2016

An overloaded van can not only be detrimental to your goods, it can also be potentially dangerous both for you and your vehicle.

ALA GAP Insurance has compiled a ‘How to load a van’ guide to ensure you are safe on the road and are driving within the law.

Van weight limits

All vans have a ‘design gross weight’, also known as ‘gross vehicle weight’ or ‘laden weight’. This is the maximum weight a van can weigh when it’s loaded, and can be found on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate in a van.

Design gross weight is the total combined weight of:

  • vehicle
  • driver (and any passengers)
  • fuel
  • the load and anything the van is carrying

Vehicle categories on the driving licence let drivers know what type of vehicle they are allowed to drive. These categories are determined by the weight of the vehicle, which are explained below.

Van weight explained

Unladen weight
Unladen weight refers to the weight of the van when it is emptied and fuelled.

Maximum authorised mass
Maximum authorised mass (MAM) refers to the weight of a van plus the maximum load that vehicle or trailer can be carry when being driven on the road.

Down-plating refers to a van that is unlikely to be used at its maximum weight. Vehicles that have been ‘down-plated’ show a lower weight on their plate.

How to load a van

It is important to keep your van safe and legal as overloading is dangerous to you and other road users.

  • Ensure you load your cargo in the centre of your vehicle between the axles
  • Cargo that is loaded towards the front of the van could overload the front axles, which is illegal
  • The physical size of boxes is not as important as their weight and where they are placed

How to secure van loads

It is also important to remember, whatever your load is, that it is secure. Some vans don’t have a bulkhead, which could result in your cargo ending up in the cab in the event of an accident. To avoid this, load your cargo evenly, place the heaviest items at the bottom, do not overload the individual axles and use appropriate restraints to secure your load.

Appropriate restraints may include:

  • ‘over-the-top’ lashings
  • rear kites
  • intermediate bulkheads
  • direct lashing to specific anchor points

Van fines

Van users can get a fixed penalty of up to £300 or a court summons if their van exceeds its maximum permitted axle weight.

Click here to read more: Guides by ALA Connect.

Published: 1st September 2016
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