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Weights and dimensions: vehicle plating

The European Union sets permitted weights and dimensions for vehicles on international journeys within the EU. National governments can also set their own limits for domestic journeys. Goods vehicles must carry a plate showing permitted or authorised axle and gross weights.

HGV testing and MoT testing

It is an offence to use an unroadworthy vehicle on the road. The Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is responsible for enforcing the law. It is actively involved in HGV and trailer testing and employing examiners, who conduct yearly roadworthiness tests, hold roadside spot checks and inspect operators’ own maintenance records. The Traffic Commissioners may take into account the number of annual test failures and roadside prohibitions incurred when an operator applies for an O-licence variation.

The EU drivers' hours rules explained

New Drivers’ Hours Rules (Regulation (EC) No 561/2006) came into force on 11 April 2007. The objective was to bring the practices of EU member states closer together and thereby contribute to better road safety for all. The information set out below will tell you exactly what you need to know:-

Load security

Insecure loads are a danger to the public and overloading may make the vehicle difficult to control and therefore dangerous. The load does not have to actually fall off a vehicle for an offence to have been committed.

Special types (STGO) and abnormal loads

The Special Types rules permit “abnormal indivisible loads” to be carried which exceed the weight and/or dimensions contained in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) Regulations 1998. A variety of unusual vehicles such an engineering plant or military vehicles, whose design and function prevent compliance with the Construction and Use Regulations, can be used on public roads in certain circumstances.

Vehicle licensing and tax (VED)

Vehicles used or parked on public roads in the UK are subject to vehicle excise duty (VED), according to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.

The Traffic Commissioners' powers

The Traffic Commissioners are appointed by the Transport Secretary and have responsibility for: licensing the operators of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches (Public Service Vehicles or PSVs) the registration of local bus services granting vocational licences and taking action against drivers of HGVs and PSVs

Changing and varying your O-licence

You must notify the Traffic Commissioner within 21 days and return the disc relating to that vehicle, together with your licence documents and vehicle list, so they can be changed.

Digital tachographs

EC regulation No 561/2006, published in April 2006, replaced the regulation (3820/85) on EU drivers’ hours and made the fitment of digital tachographs mandatory in all new vehicles that require a tachograph as of 1 May 2006. There have been no changes, however, to the basic hours rules or to the vehicles exempted from using a tachograph. Nor is there any requirement to retrofit digital tachographs to existing vehicles. More information on the background to digital tachographs.