Additional Abnormal Indivisible Loads Factors

Many other factors are governing the carriage of Abnormal Indivisible Loads (AIL), all of which are important and have a significant bearing on the movements of the same. The following factors all require consideration: 

If your organisation is not a user of the ‘Elec­tronic Ser­vice Deliv­ery for Abnor­mal Loads’ (ESDAL) system then you can still make an application to move an abnormal load, as well as notify the authorities, using the forms available below.

Attendants Special Type Vehicles

These vehicles must carry a statutory attendant in the following cases:

  • If the vehicle or its load exceeds 3.5m in width; or 
  • If the overall length (including projections) exceeds 18.75m (discounting the length of the towing unit on an articulated vehicle); or, 
  • If the total length of a motor vehicle and drawbar trailer (including projections) exceeds 25.9m; or, 
  • When the load projects more than 2m to the front or 3.05m to the rear 

When three or more such vehicles are traveling in convoy an attendant is required in only the front and rear vehicles. 

Operators of abnormal load vehicles also operate vehicles under Construction & Use (C&U) regulations and it should be noted that whereas these loads do not fall within the bounds of CAT 1, 2, or 3, there are still legal obligations on the operator under certain circumstances where the following are concerned:

  • Width 
  • Length 
  • Marking 
  • Attendants 

It should also be the case, as a matter of road safety, to check and plan the route thoroughly before proceeding, which may also include notification to the local police authorities to which the vehicle and load will pass through. 


There is no law requiring a vehicle moving under STGO or a Special Order to be accompanied by an escort vehicle, although the police request an escort vehicle is used when necessary.

Codes of practice relating to escorts are published by Highways England and cover Lighting and Marking for VR1, STGO, C&U, and Self Escorting, and a brief guide on Overhanging Loads is available to download.

Code of Practice: Lighting and Marking for Special Order, VR1, STGO, and C&U loads

Code of Practice: Lighting and Marking for Abnormal Load Self escorting vehicles incorporating Operating guidance

A brief guide to Overhanging Loads

Police forces now encourage the self, or private escorting, of abnormal loads and operators should enquire when they make their notification of movement of a load if they are required to provide an escort. Where necessary the police authority may be able to provide an escort and if so, there is a charge for the service.  

In certain circumstances, the police will escort the vehicle where the nature of the road that the load is to be transported over requires it. However, this should, in all cases, be confirmed with the police authority in question. 

Code of Practice 

There is a voluntary code of practice providing practical guidelines that have been developed to guide operators on self-escorting abnormal loads. Although it is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law's requirements, however, it points out many of the legal obligations which need to be met, and also contains information and explanations which are designed to ensure that those escorting abnormal vehicles on the highways do so in a manner which maximises safety for themselves as well as other road users. 

Self-escorting is intended to offer greater flexibility for scheduling moves and therefore should enable the load(s) to travel at off-peak times when there is less traffic. This will both reduce traffic disruption to other road users, improve journey times for the haulier, and reduce the burden on the police.

The code of practice, which applies throughout England, Wales, and Scotland is intended to provide a nationwide standard that is recognised by both industry and the police authorities alike.  

The code of practice covers:

  • The requirement for an escort vehicle, including details of its appearance, markings, warning beacons and equipment to be carried; 
  • Specification for a self-escorting person with a description of the role, responsibilities and duties; 
  • General operating practices with thresholds for self-escorting, documentation to be carried and practices to be adopted whilst actively engaged in the role 

Notice to Secretary of State 

The approval of Highways England must be sought if a load exceeds 5 meters in width. Highways England does not advise on routes for general movements under the Special Types Order, however, it continues to issue mandatory agreed routes for special order movements and may undertake work on verifying routes for movements authorised. This underlines the need for operators to survey proposed routes and clear them with the highway authorities. 

  • Use Form VR1  - for loads between 5m and 6.1m wide
  • Use Form BE16 - for loads outside STGO, such as those loads over 6.1m wide, 30m in length or over 150,000kg GVW.

Forms are obtainable from the abnormal load's section at Highways England, which requires that notifications under the VR1 form are made at least 2 weeks in advance, whilst movements covered by the BE16 must be notified 8 weeks before moving. 

Notice to Highways England 

Abnormal load movements under STGO regulations that traverse Highways England structures and bridges are required to notify the relevant Highways England managing agent contractor to ensure the relevant load capacity checks have been undertaken. 

Notice to Road & Bridge Authorities 

Two days' clear notice in the prescribed form must be given to road and bridge authorities if the gross or axle weights exceed the construction & use weight limits. It is advisable to give 5 days' notice if the total weight exceeds 80,000kg. 

Highway authorities may dispense with requirements as to the length of notice, but cannot avoid the requirement for notice. 

Many of the non-trunk road/rail bridges are the responsibility of Network Rail. Therefore notification to either Network Rail (or transport for London – TfL) is required for movements passing over them. 

  • The form below offers;
    Notification to Police and Highways & Bridge Authorities
  • The form below offers;
    Notification to Police and Highways & Bridge Authorities - Support Guide v2 
  • The form below offers;
    Police and Highway and Bridge Authorities for Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) under (General) Order, 2003 Schedule 5 or Schedule 9 Part 1. These submissions are subject to the prior agreement of each of the authorities, it may be used to give notice of additional journeys, different vehicles, routes and destinations.
  • The form below offers;
    An Aide Memoire - Notification Requirement for movement of Abnormal Indivisible or Vehicles Under C&U Reg vSep 2015
  • The form below offers;
    Movement of Vehicle between 5m - 6.1meters in width - VR1 - 
  • The form below offers;
    Vehicle details request form for abnormal load movements authorised by Special Order. This form must be submitted at least 8 weeks before the date of your proposed first movement.
  • The form below offers;
    Notice to Police under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This I subject to the prior agreement of each of the police forces, it may be used to give notice of Additional Journeys, Different Vehicles, Routes, and Destinations.
  • The form below offers;
    Damage indemnity and liability under STGO 2003 Schedule 9 Part 2 
  • The form below offers;
    Notice to Local Highways Authority to Secure the Removal of an Obstruction - Form 1
  • The form below offers;
    A Guide for Category 1, 2, and 3 Abnormal Indivisible Load (AIL) Vehicles
  • The form and content below offer;
    Area Location List of Abnormal Load Laybys - Issued Oct 2008

       Highway Agency Abnormal Load Lay-by & Motorway Services Areas Map

Automatic Level Crossings 

Drivers must obtain permission from the signalman (using the telephone provided) before crossing an automatic half barrier level crossing if their vehicle(s), including load, exceeds 44 tonnes GVW or 9' 6" (2.9 meters) in width or 61' 6" (18.75 meters) overall length, or are incapable of exceeding 5mph.

Failure to do so is a 'totting-up offense' and can lead to a driving disqualification. However, if the telephone is out of action or the signalman does not reply within two minutes, a driver can proceed after checking from the railway notice in the phone box that the line is closed and that no train is due. Only in these circumstances can the driver cross without contacting the signalman. Alternatively, he must contact the police if there is no reply or no ringing tone. 

Breakdowns on Bridges 

When any vehicle exceeding 44,000 kgs stops on a bridge for any reason, it must be moved clear of the bridge as soon as possible. If following a breakdown it is necessary to use jacks, rollers etc. then the advice of the bridge authority as to the use of spreader plates, and other equipment must be sought and the advice/recommendations followed. 

Offenses and Penalties 

Failure to comply with the permissive requirements of STGO is not itself an offense, However, movements covered by STGO are exempted from some of the Construction and Use rules. Therefore, failure to comply with the requirements would render the driver and operator liable to prosecution under Construction and Use or Authorised Weight Regulations, perhaps concerning overloading or being over width. 

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) 

Motor vehicles used to carry 'exceptional loads' under a Special Types Order are taxable at the annual rate of £2,785. For vehicles satisfying the reduced pollution requirements, the rate is £2,485. An 'exceptional load' is one which owing to its dimensions or weight cannot be carried within the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. 

If an abnormal load is carried on a vehicle that complies with Construction and Uses or Authorised Weight Regulations it will not be necessary to tax the vehicle at the STGO rate unless the load is over 4.3 meters wide and is thus covered by the Special Type’s rules.  

Vehicles carrying loads above 4.3 metres wide but which comply with Construction and Use regulations in all other respects, must pay vehicle excise duty appropriate for Special Type’s vehicles.

Vehicle Excise Duty Charge Rates

Rates of RFL vehicle tax form V149 for cars, motorcycles, light goods vehicles, and private light goods vehicles

Rates of RFL vehicle tax charges form V149/1 for heavy goods vehicles, special vehicles, private heavy goods vehicles, a small island, vehicles, buses, combined transport, recovery vehicles, and general haulage vehicles