Other Factors to Consider
There are many other factors governing the carraige of Abnormal loads, all of which are important and have a significant bearing on the movements of the same. To this end we've gathered together various factors which are of benefit to operators and those considering entering into this realm.
We have also reproduced an article from AVRO which concerns the recovery of Abnormal Load vehicles, which is significant and in view of the braking regulations under STGO is wholly relevant to both operators and recovery companies alike.
- Automatic Level Crossings
- Breakdowns on Bridges
- Offences and Penalties
- Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)
- Recovery of STGO Vehicles
Special types vehicles must carry a statutory attendant in the following cases:
- if the vehicle or its load exceeds 3.5m in width; or
- if the overall length (including projections) exceeds 18.75m (discounting the length of the towing unit on an articulated vehicle); or
- if the total length of a motor vehicle and drawbar trailer (including projections) exceeds 25.9m; or
- when the load projects more than 2m to the front or 3.05m to the rear.
When three or more such vehicles are travelling in convoy an attendant is required in only the front and rear vehicles.
Legislation does not contain any requirement for an abnormal load to be escorted. Legally enforceable standards exist for the notification of abnormal load movement to both Chief Constables and the Highway Authoritiesr. The police are not responsible for ensuring the safe operational passage of abnormal loads on the roads; this is the role of the operator.
Police forces are now encouraging self/private escorting of abnormal loads and operators should inquire when they make their notification of movement of a load if they are required to provide an escort, or indeed if they require the police to escort the load and whether (if the Police do escort) there is a charge for the service.
In certain circumstances, where the nature of the road that the Load is to be transported over, the Police will escort the vehicle. However, this should (in all cases) be confirmed with the Police Auuthority in question.
A voluntary code of practice providing practical guidelines has been developed to guide industry on self escorting abnormal loads. Although it is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law's requirements, it points out many of the legal obligations which need to be met, and also contains information and explanations which are designed to ensure that those escorting abnormal vehicles on the highways do so in a manner which maximises safety.
Self escorting, is intended to offer greater flexibility for scheduling moves and therefore should enable the load(s) to travel at off peak
times when there is less traffic. This will both reduce traffic disruption to other road users and improve journey times for the haulier.
It will also reduce the burden on the police, who may currently undertake this role, thereby allowing them to pursue other important
The code of practice, which applies throughout England, Wakes and Scotland is intended to provide a nationwide standard that is recognised by both industry and the police authorities alike. The code of practice covers:
- requirement for an escort vehicle - including details of its appearance, markings, warning beacons and equipment to be carried;
- specification for a self escorting person - a description of the roles, responsibilities and duties;
- general operating practices - thresholds for self escorting, documentation to be carried and practices to be adopted whilst actively engaged in this role.
Automatic Level Crossings
Drivers must obtain permission from the signalman (using the telephone provided) before crossing an automatic half barrier level crossing if their vehicle(s), including load, exceed 44 tonnes gvw or 9' 6" (2.9 metres) in width or 61' 6" (18.75 metres) overall length, or are incapable of exceeding 5mph. Failure to do so is a 'totting-up offence' and can lead to a driving disqualification. However, if the telephone is out of action or the signalman does not reply within two minutes, a driver can proceed after checking from the railway notice in the phone box that the line is closed and that no train is due. Only in these circumstances can the driver cross without contacting the signalman. Alternatively he must contact the police if there is no reply or no ringing tone.
Breakdowns on Bridges
When any vehicle exceeding 44,000 kgs stops on a bridge for any reason, it must be moved clear of the bridge as soon as possible. If following a breakdown it is necessary to use jacks, rollers, and so on then the advice of the bridge authority as to the use of spreader plates, and other equipment must be sought and the advice/recommendations followed.
Offences and Penalties
Failure to comply with the permissive requirements of STGO is not itself an offence. However, movements covered by STGO are exempted from a number of construction and use rules. Therefore, failure to comply with the requirements would render the driver and operator liable to prosecution under Construction and Use or Authorised Weight Regulations, perhaps in relation to overloading or being over width.
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)
Motor vehicles used to carry 'exceptional loads' under a special types order are taxable at the annual rate of £2,585. For vehicles satisfying the reduced pollution requirements the rate is £2,085. An 'exceptional load' is one which owing to its dimensions or weight cannot be carried within the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
If an abnormal load is carried on a vehicle which complies with Construction and Use or Authorised Weight Regulations it will not be necessary to tax the vehicle at the STGO rate unless the load is over 4.3 metres wide and is thus covered by the special types rules. Vehicles carrying loads in excess of 4.3 metres wide but which comply with construction and use regulations in all other respects, must pay vehicle excise duty appropriate for special types vehicles.
Recovery of STGO Vehicles
The following has been taken directly from the AVRO website and expresses their concerns regarding broken down abnormal load vehicles, and the braking factors that are associated with certain types of vehicles in the abnormal load category.
C&U provides an exemption from the braking requirements for a 'broken down vehicle'. This exemption will not only apply to those vehicles permitted by C&U, but also those authorised by the STGO. Regarding the comments made by AVRO on the requirement for recovery vehicles to be equipped with an 'approved brake connection point', our view is that the STGO requirements do not require all 'casualty' vehicles to be equipped with such a connection point. Given the exemption that is provided by C&U, a casualty vehicle can be recovered without operational brakes but, if the brakes on the casualty vehicle(s) are going to be applied from the towing vehicle during the course of the recovery, this can only be achieved through an 'approved brake connection point'.
The reason for including this provision in the STGO was to only permit 'suitable' operation of the brakes on the casualty vehicles. Although motor vehicles may not be equipped with an approved connection point as AVRO have indicated in their letter, recovery vehicles could (and are) equipped with brake connections (service and emergency lines) that could for example (and frequently are) connected directly to the trailer of an articulated combination to provide braking of the trailer when performing such a recovery. As the majority, if not all, recovery vehicles will have been converted from tractor units, these connections are likely to have been fitted to the vehicle by its original manufacturer and likely to meet the requirements set out in the STGO.
The DfT accept that allowing vehicles to be recovered without brakes is not ideal, but it should be remembered that although the STGO does not impose a set distance for recoveries that are using a drawbar or lift and tow method, the casualty vehicle should not be transported "any further than is reasonably necessary". The provisions are obviously in place to allow vehicle recovery, are there solely to allow 'recovery' and not transportation in the same way that goods are. The exact wording in the STGO is: "Where a recovery of a disabled vehicle or vehicle combination is effected by using a drawbar or lift-and-tow method, the road recovery vehicle must not carry or tow the disabled vehicle or vehicle combination any further than is reasonably necessary in order to clear any road obstructed by it and to facilitate the use of roads by other persons." What would be considered as 'reasonably necessary' is something the courts would need to make a judgement on.
Regarding towing an unbraked trailer (casualty) and the drawing vehicle needing to be twice the weight of the trailer, the DfT are not aware of any legislative requirement for this. Regulation 87 of C&U (unbraked trailers) does require a vehicle towing an unbraked trailer to be twice the weight of the trailer (including its load) but, this regulation does not apply to trailers that are broken down vehicles by virtue of regulation 87(2)(b).