What is classed as an Abnormal Load?

If you need to move something bigger or heavier than usual (in road haulage terms) this is classed as an abnormal load.  This usually happens when a load can’t be broken down into smaller loads without damaging the load or incurring significant costs when doing so. 

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

  • Width: 2.9m

  • Weight: More than 44,000kgs

  • Length: 18.65m rigid length or 25.9m overall length

Source:  Police Scotland

There are a number of additional factors to consider when dealing with an abnormal load.  Most notably the route you plan to take, notifying the relevant authorities and the need for escort vehicles to guide the load.  Your haulage contractor should take care of the details involved in this, but you’ll need to work closely with them to ensure that all measurements, access and routes meet your requirements.

Route planning

The objective for any haulier when moving an abnormal load is to carry it out in a controlled and safe manner.  To ensure the most efficient movement of the load they’ll consider which route will minimise traffic disruption and impact on others.  Abnormal loads tend to be carried out during off peak times to avoid the busiest time of day on the roads and on occasion they can be carried out overnight to allow specialist movement through built up areas. 

Notifying the authorities

Depending on the load you’re moving and your route, you may need to give advance warning to:

  • Police

  • Highway authorities – to understand any road works, diversions etc.

  • Bridge and structure owners like Network Rail etc.

Extra time will need to be built into planning to allow all relevant notifications to be granted.  The time it takes for notifications to come through can range from 2 days to 10 weeks depending on the authority and the complexity of the job.  Moving through different regions or countries can also present additional challenges, especially if it involves country roads or built up areas which may require road closures. 

Escort vehicles

Most abnormal loads will require an escort vehicle to be provided by the transport company.  The purpose of this vehicle is to guide the load through the route and alert other road users to the presence of an abnormal load.  Where loads are classed as ‘Special Orders’ a Police escort will be required.  The Police charge for this service and your haulier will be the link with the Police and will build in the costs of this to your quote.

We offer a free consultation and site visit to ensure the planning and preparation for an abnormal load is fully understood.  Get in touch to find out more.