Securing your load

Loose loads can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal, to you and other drivers. It is an offence under the HVNL if your load is not properly restrained and is at risk of falling from your vehicle.

Every year Victorians are at danger from tonnes of debris falling onto roads from unsecured loads. The debris causes road closures and disruptions, and can lead to serious crashes.

Did you know?

  • 80 tonnes of debris is removed from Victorian roads each month.
  • 700 call-outs to collect debris each year, with half of these putting staff in dangerous situations.
  • More than 50 cars were hit by items falling off a trailer or truck in 2008 — some of these caused serious injury.
  • A properly-restrained load won’t dislodge, even after the most severe braking, swerving and cornering.
  • A heavy load is just as likely to fall as a light load; the same ‘g’ forces are acting on both.
  • Many crashes resulting from a loose load occur at low speeds within a short distance of the trip commencing. 

Fines for unsecured loads

If you don’t properly secure your load you may be fined, even if your load doesn’t come loose. There are three types of risk categories with varying fines. The penalties differ between regular drivers and companies.

Minor risk breach

An unsecured load that does not involve danger to a person, or the risk of damage to property or the environment.

Penalty: Individuals are fined $242 (Driver - RSA - light vehicle),  $330 (Driver/Employer/Operator/Prime Sub-Contractor - HVNL**) and the company $1209 (Operator - RSA -  light vehicle).

Substantial risk breach

An unsecured load that poses a danger to people, property or the environment.

Penalty: Individuals are fined $645 (Driver - RSA - light vehicle),  $551 (Driver/Employer/Operator/Prime Sub-Contractor - HVNL**) and the company $3224 (Operator - RSA -  light vehicle).

Severe risk breach

An unsecured load that causes harm to people, or damage to property or the environment.

Penalty:  Individuals and companies are taken to court

If any of the offences result in court, individuals and companies will also be liable for up to 500 penalty units* for a company (up to $80,595) and 100 penalty units* for an individual (up to $16,119) Road Safety Act - Light Vehicles.

* Penalty unit = $161.19

**HVNL - Court - Minor up to $3,300
                      - Substantial up to $5,510
                      - Severe up to $11,000

How to carry a load safely

  • Choose a suitable vehicle for your load.
  • Position and place the load so that it is secure.
  • Select suitable restraint equipment – it should be ‘rated’ and meet Australian Standards.
  • You may need to adjust your headlights when your vehicle is loaded.
  • Drive carefully and regularly check your restraints.

How to properly secure your load

Different loads should be transported differently. There are general checks you can do, but the way you carry a load will depend on the load itself.

  • Bundle similar items together, in a more stable single unit.
  • Use restraints when packing wooden boards; anti-slip matting prevents items from sliding, especially long items.
  • Ropes can be difficult to keep tight across your load. When available use webbing straps as they can be more effective and are simple to use.
  • Nets and tarpaulins may be used to restrain lighter items.
  • Loose sheets of building materials may be restrained by fitting them tightly in trays, and then securing them properly with restraints.
  • Make sure heavy items are not loaded on top of lighter items.
  • Most headboards and loading racks aren’t strong enough to fully restrain heavy loads.
  • Use metal or heavy-duty plastic top corner protector angles to protect cartons.
  • High and narrow items such as stacks of smaller cartons usually need more than one restraint.
  • Fill spaces and gaps between piles with other items and make sure these are restrained as well.

Load restraint

Secure restraint of loads on vehicles is important in preventing accidents and injury to people.

The revised edition of the national Load Restraint Guide was released. Individual sections of the Load Restraint Guide 2018 are on the National Transport Commission website (External link) in PDF format.

A load restraint training package has been developed to support the new guide and improve the awareness and understanding of load restraint practices. The training information is available from the National Transport Commission’s website.

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