TT Talk - Overloaded containers

The police and highway authorities are continuing to crack down on overweight vehicles, and are looking especially at containerized loads.

In many countries, if a vehicle is discovered to be over the permitted weight limit, it will generally not be permitted to move any further: the truck operator or the shipper will be required to arrange to transfer the excess weight to another vehicle. It will immediately be recognized that the roadside is not the best environment for carrying out such transfers. Delivery will inevitably be delayed and there is a substantial risk of damage to the cargo. In the United States, truckers are permitted by federal law to recover the costs of any such transfer operations, and any fines imposed, from the shipper; they are also allowed to impose a lien on the cargo until the costs are paid. Similar arrangements exist in many other countries, either by law or under agreed contractual terms.

The reasons behind this close attention are evident: overloaded vehicles constitute a danger to themselves and other road users. If you were responsible for dispatching an overloaded container which was subsequently involved in an accident, you could find yourself liable in tort to an injured third party. No indemnity or guarantee from a customer or a trucker will shield you against any such claim, although they might enable you to make a financial recovery - providing, of course, that the trucker or customer is adequately insured. If you knew that the container was in excess of the permitted limits and nevertheless allowed it to proceed, you may have jeopardised your TT Club cover for first party and third party liabilities.

Because the weight restrictions differ from country to country, and because you also have to take into account the weight of the carrying vehicle when calculating the permitted weight in a container, the Club cannot give precise information for any particular movement. You should however be able to get the required information from the shipping line's dispatch department.