Transporting an abnormal load on a public road or motorway involves several strict regulations and compliance requirements such as wide load escorts. As an example, operators/drivers cannot overload the vehicle regardless of the cargo being transported. Failure to adhere to this rule can result in severe fines and other penalties if prosecuted.

One method of maintaining compliance regarding weight without the need for wide load escorts is to dismantle and transport the load in several component parts. However, this may not always be possible as some types of cargo, such as aircraft wings, or bridge spans come with limited options to dismantle.

Regardless of whatever the type of item(s), it may be the case that specialist planning and the use of specialised vehicles and trailers are required to move the item(s) within the limits of the route being taken.

Adherence to the rules and regulations concerning Ab-Load road movements ensures that public safety is paramount, as is also the prevention of damage to the item(s), and to road and bridge structures.

An ‘abnormal load’ is a vehicle that has any of the following:

  • a weight of more than 44,000kg
  • an axle load of more than 10,000kg for a single non-driving axle and 11,500kg for a single driving axle
  • a width of more than 2.9 metres
  • a rigid length of more than 18.65 metres
  • Other measurements may apply if you are transporting a load abroad.

Restrictions over bridges

Hauliers must notify the police of their intention to move abnormal loads. They must also alert the owners of any bridges and structures that cross, or are crossed by, the route they plan to use.

Escort person specification

It is the responsibility of hauliers to satisfy themselves that their own escort personnel are sufficiently competent to undertake the task of escorting abnormal loads. Competent means that they are suitably trained and/or experienced for the role. Where a subcontractor is employed, the subcontractor shall ensure that their staff are competent, through training and/or experience for the role.

Escort person Main duties and responsibilities

The main duties and responsibilities of an escort person are:

  • to escort the abnormal load along the approved transport route acting as a warning to other road users and pedestrians
  • to ensure that any special instructions/restrictions, for example cautions applying to bridges, tunnels or level crossings, either for the escort vehicle or the vehicle carrying the abnormal load, are adhered to
  • to act as a point of contact and to be the communications interface between the abnormal load convoy and police/highway authority control rooms, bridge authorities and emergency services if required
  • to alert the emergency services as appropriate in the event of an incident involving the abnormal load. (If suitably trained, use the first aid kit and fire extinguisher as appropriate.)
  • to place traffic cones and warning beacons around the abnormal load when it is stationary for a period of time in order to warn other road users
  • to ensure that the escort vehicle is ‘fit for purpose’ and conforms to this code of practice. Essential skills and qualifications

There is much more information that should be read in connection with Attendants, which can be found at the link below:

Code of Practice Self Escorting Vehicles – Operator Guidance

Warning beacons

Abnormal load vehicles travelling at low speeds (25 kilometres per hour and below) require amber flashing lights when moving along an unrestricted dual carriageway. Light bars can be used, but they should be visible at appropriate distances from the vehicle.