A guide to oversize loads

Pubblished on: 20 October 2022
Category: About shipping

In the shipping business, you may need to move cargo that exceeds the size or weight limits a truck can convey on a given stretch of road. This falls under the category of an oversize load, also known as overweight load or special transport.

Let us have a closer look at what this is and what it means for your business.

What is an oversize load?

Common examples of oversize loads include heavy machinery, containers, pre-built homes, construction materials such as metal sheets or blocks of natural stone, and even vehicles and livestock.

What makes cargo fall under the oversize category may be its size, weight, or both. These regulations are in place for the safety and convenience of everyone involved, from the driver to anyone who happens to be traveling in the proximity of a truck carrying especially heavy or bulky items.

In some places, for instance, special transport may be forbidden on the weekends or in other holiday periods when an upswing in traffic is expected, and depending on the size of the load, the truck may require additional escort vehicles to reduce the risk of accidents.

Making travel plans

It is important to know the legal aspects of special transport in the country or state in which your cargo is going to be travelling: size and weight limits, for instance, are not always the same, so what is considered an oversize load in one place may be regular cargo in another.

To provide a local example, a load is considered oversize in Italy when it exceeds 2.55 meters (approximately 8.37 ft) in width, 4 meters (13.12 ft) in height, or 18-20 tons in weight for an isolated two-axle vehicle, which increase to 24-44 tons for articulated trucks with 3 to 5 axles or more.

Because the weight limits for special transport are often calculated on a per-axle basis rather than by total weight, redistributing the load may sometimes make the difference between regular and oversize.

While the specific regulations may change from country to country, some general rules of thumb that apply to all oversize loads are the following:

Expect delays and plan accordingly: oversize loads require permits that may take a long time to obtain.
Plan your route carefully, especially if the parameter you are exceeding concerns the size of your cargo: you may encounter a road that is too narrow or a bridge too low for your truck, thus causing traffic jams or accidents.
• Besides obtaining permits, check the local regulations for any other actions you may have to take, such equipping your vehicle with signs, flags or flashing lights.
If you are in the business of transporting items that fall under the definition of oversize loads, we at Global Shipping will be glad to provide our expertise to help you navigate the legal and practical pitfalls of moving difficult cargo.

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