Weight and dimensions of vehicles

The maximum permissible weights and dimensions of goods vehicles in the UK have traditionally been set out in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. Much European Union legislation in the form of directives has been incorporated into these regulations. Directive 85/3 set common weights and dimensions standards for vehicles used on international transport; Directive 96/53 superseded the earlier directive and applied the weights standards to domestic transport. Directive 96/53 weight limits were given legal effect on 1 January 1999 as part of the Road Vehicles (Authorised Weight) Regulations 1998 and not as a further amendment to the Construction and Use Regulations. 

As the Authorised Weight Regulations operate in parallel with the construction and use regulations, operators may choose to comply with one set of regulations or the other. It is not permissible to comply with a combination of the two regulations – for example 40 and 41 tonne vehicles are only permitted under the Authorised Weight Regulations so it follows that the axle spacing of those vehicles must comply with these regulations. 

Operation above 40 tonnes on six axles is not derived from Directive 96/53. It is a domestic limit created by the UK Government and is therefore not applicable to other EU countries. Operations at 44 tonnes was allowed generally from 1 February 2001. 

Download the Weight and dimensions of vehicles chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law