Transport September 2022

With vehicle weights, load security, compliance, training and competence, all the subjects of recent reviews, I was asked to give my views on how this will affect the ready-mix industry, especially concerning mixers. 

 Let’s look at weights (again) this week. 

 Recent videos across social media have once again highlighted the seriousness of these issues, either through a lack of understanding or the misguided judgment that the law doesn’t apply to some. 

 In one video, the driver explains to the interviewer that his truck, fully loaded with eight cubic metres of concrete, weighs just under 34 tonnes before pointing out that he’s extra cautious of where he’s discharging the load. 

Now it’s worth noting that it was pointed out that this is a professional driver who, at the very minimum, should be aware of the legal limit of his truck. 

What made it even worse is that the driver had his company name on his jacket, along with the company they supply for, while standing next to his truck, again, emblazoned with the supply name all over… “ignorance is no defence” springs to mind. 

 As most readers (obviously not the driver above) will know, the legal UK weight limit for that size vehicle is 32 tonnes, making it nearly two tonnes overweight – keep those figures in mind for a minute…

 So, who should take responsibility?

O Licence undertakings are straightforward for both employer and employee.

 Employers must:

    • Procure and allocate vehicles that are adequate for the weights expected to be carried
    • Ensure that routes are planned that do not involve vehicles in contravening weight restrictions
    • Take reasonable steps to ensure that drivers do not overload vehicles or contravene weight restrictions.

Employees’ Duties

Drivers must:

    • Ensure they know the maximum permitted gross weight of their vehicle
    • Take all reasonable steps to see that any vehicle they drive is not overloaded beyond its maximum permitted gross weight
    • Arrange the load so as not to place excessive weight on any individual axle
    • Observe all weight restrictions.

 The guidance above couldn’t be any clearer, yet it seems there are still some that aren’t taking this seriously. 

 A further twist regarding industry weights can be found in parliamentary evidence documents submitted less than 12 months ago. 

 Seemingly submitting evidence on ‘The potential effects of the Government’s policies and regulations on the efficient operation of the supply chain, including cabotage rules and drivers’ hours.’ gave a chance to bring up weights:

 “Government should consider addressing weight limits for vehicles, which would make a difference in our industry, especially for contracts serving major projects with many vehicle movements. Subject to axle weight and physical limits on the road network and a thorough safety assessment, increasing the 44-tonne weight limit to 46 and the 32-tonne limit to 34 tonnes would be worth exploring.”…

Is that where the extra two tonnes come from?

 Make your own mind up as to how that can be interpreted, but coming from an industry that continues to come under scrutiny for many road safety issues, why should we be given preferential treatment? 

In fact, why ask the government to consider addressing weights when it’s evident that many run overweight anyway. 

 As the industry continues to shoot itself in the foot from some quarters, these submitted evidence documents continue to make interesting reading… more next week. 

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