You’ve probably seen photos of insanely overloaded vehicles floating around on the internet – scooters with six riders, bakkies piled twice their height, and people stuffed like sardines in cars? While most of us won’t go to those extremes, many of us have been guilty of overloading our vehicles. Even if you can get everything to fit in, it might be heavier than the vehicle’s recommended maximum capacity. Whether you drive a small hatch or a large cargo truck, overloading is a serious problem.
An overloaded vehicle is dangerous. The added weight makes your brakes less effective and influences the suspension, thus making steering more difficult. It’s much easier to lose control if a vehicle is loaded beyond its maximum capacity. This effect is amplified in larger vehicles such as semi-trucks.
Increased operating cost
The extra weight bearing down on your tyres can cause them to overheat, bulge, or wear out unevenly. This can lead to a blow out – another potentially dangerous situation. Overloading a vehicle also increases it’s fuel usage significantly.
Fines and insurance implications
If you are to be pulled over and your vehicle is found to be overloaded, or you refuse to have your vehicle weighed when asked to do so by a traffic officer, you can face a hefty fine. Overloading can also lead to your insurance refusing your claim if your vehicle is in involved an accident.
Cost to road infrastructure
One of the biggest causes of damage to South Africa’s roads is overloaded vehicles. The economic impact of this is huge as much more needs to be spent on maintenance and repairs to the roads than would usually be necessary. Unfortunately, this inconsiderate behaviour leads to more costs for other road users in the form of fuel levies, licence fees, etc.
- Know your vehicle’s payload limit and don’t exceed it. You will be able to find this figure displayed on the inside of the driver’s side door, or in the vehicle’s manual. If it’s not displayed, you can calculate it by deducting the kerb mass from the gross vehicle mass (GVM).
- In addition to checking overall weight limits, articulated and semi-articulated trucks should be checked to ensure that the weight is evenly distributed across all axles. Cardinal Weighbridge Company South Africa (CWCSA) recommends that companies with their own fleets invest in weighbridges to ensure safety before the vehicles leave the yard.