It fell off the back of a lorry
An insecure load can have tragic consequences. It may injure or even kill other road users. Similarly, a driver can even be hurt if a load shifts internally e.g. where a lorry has to brake sharply and the load enters the driver cab.
The law in this area applies not only to businesses but also to everyone who uses any vehicle in any context on a public road.
Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition
Under Section 40A Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence to use a vehicle or trailer on a road where this involves a danger of injury to any person. Not only is the driver guilty, but also anyone who causes or permits the vehicle or trailer to be used e.g. the business operator.
The offence will be committed if the weight, position or distribution of the load, or the manner in which the load is secured involves a danger of injury. In a bad case, it is conceivable that a driver could be charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving (or death by dangerous driving). This is because dangerous driving can be committed driving a vehicle in its current state would be dangerous – anything attached to a vehicle or carried on it and the way anything is attached or carried can be taken into account.
Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition brings an unlimited fine for goods vehicles or vehicles adapted to carry more than eight passengers, or, otherwise, a max fine of £2,500. Three penalty points must be endorsed on the driving licence of the driver or other person convicted of the offence. There is also a discretion to disqualify from driving, instead of penalty points being imposed. If an offence is committed twice within the three-year period then there is a mandatory driving disqualification – a lesser-known fact.
Drivers will invariably receive fixed penalty offers from DVSA or the police for having an insecure load, as an alternative to prosecution in the Magistrates Court. This must be reported to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner by transport operators that may lead to possible action against the operator’s licence.
Insecure loads will always result in prohibition notices being imposed by DVSA and this, as well as any fixed penalty, will be recorded against the operator’s roadside compliance history. This system is designed to target non-compliant businesses so, the less there is proper compliance, the greater likelihood of your vehicle being stopped at the roadside by DVSA.
Security of load
What are DVSA and police officers looking at when examining your vehicle?
- can the load move side to side or forwards/backwards?
- is the load likely to topple? is it stable?
- is there anything loose and not stashed away?
- what restraints are being used and what is their condition/quality/capacity?
- is the load secured against the headboard? if not is any gap filled?
- are gaps filled with blocks or other means, to stop movement?
Our Road Transport law team can help you
Ashtons Legal provides dedicated, niche advice in the area of road transport law, including operator licensing as well as representation in Court and at Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry hearings.
For more information about this or any other aspects of road transport law please get in touch with us through our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 404 0749. We would be delighted to help you and your business.
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